SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Xenia von Wedel, Peter Silva, Glenn Rossman, Ava Smith

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Nassiri & Jung Obtains Favorable Ninth Circuit Ruling Allowing Facebook Users to Proceed With Claims for Breach of Privacy Policies

Nassiri & Jung LLP, attorneys in a proposed privacy class action against Facebook, praised a federal appeals court ruling, stating that it “affirms consumer rights to choose how personal information is used by companies like Facebook.” In a decision that promises to make internet companies accountable to their users, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled yesterday that Facebook users may proceed with breach of contract and fraud claims arising from Facebook’s alleged disclosure of user information to advertisers. In re Facebook Privacy Litigation, No. 12-15619 (9th Cir. May 8, 2014).

Reversing dismissal of a class action complaint challenging Facebook’s privacy practices, the Ninth Circuit found that Plaintiff Mike Robertson—a Facebook user who claims that Facebook breached its privacy policy by disclosing his and millions of other Facebook users’ identities to advertisers—may proceed on his claims for breach of contract and fraud.

Although many cases have been filed alleging breach of internet privacy policies nationwide, relatively few have made it beyond the pleadings, with lower courts dismissing claims on the grounds that “mere disclosure of personal information” does not constitute harm to users as a matter of law. The Ninth Circuit rejected such arguments, finding that allegations that users were harmed by the dissemination of their personal information were “sufficient to show the element of damages for their breach of contract and fraud claims.”

“This is a very important decision for Facebook users and consumers generally who rely on internet provider privacy policies,” said attorney Kassra Nassiri of Nassiri & Jung LLP, who along with Nassiri & Jung principal John Manier, represented Plaintiff/Appellant Mike Robertson in the appeal. “Prior to today’s ruling,” Nassiri says, “internet companies could promise users the sky when it came to safeguarding user personal information, because they could safely count on courts to throw out user claims for breach of privacy policies. After today’s ruling, internet companies will think twice before making privacy promises they can’t or don’t intend to keep.”

ABOUT NASSIRI & JUNG: Nassiri & Jung is a Los Angeles and San Francisco litigation law firm focusing on complex litigation, employment, corporate governance litigation, and appeals. The firm’s class action practice focuses predominantly on defense, but takes on meritorious plaintiff’s matters that advance the public interest. For more information, visit www.njfirm.com, or contact Kassra Nassiri at (415) 762-3100.

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