Social networking giant Facebook Inc. is being sued for tracking users’ Web activity without their permission after they have signed out of the online application.
There is a class action lawsuit filed in a federal court in San Jose, Calif., by Perrin Aiken Davis accusing the Palo Alto, California- Facebook of using a “cookie” file that is installed on computers, which identifies users and their exchanges online while they are logged in their account, as well as when they are logged out.
“This admission came only after an Australian technology blogger exposed Facebook’s practice of monitoring members who have logged out, although he brought the problems to the defendant’s attention a year ago,” said the complaint based on a Bloomberg report.
A self-labelled Australian hacker Nik Cubrilovic highlighted the vulnerable security concern regarding the cookies collecting information. He claimed, “Even if you are logged out, Facebook still knows and can track every page you visit."
Lawmakers, consumer and privacy groups are voicing their concerns and are calling for further investigations by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to scrutinize Facebook’s business practices.
Ireland’s Data Protection Commission will be undertaking a privacy audit of Facebook due to the controversy and complaints surrounding the company’s privacy invasion. This probe impacts the world’s most popular social-networking site because beyond its North American operations, Facebook’s international headquarters is based in Ireland’s capital city, Dublin.
“This audit will examine the subject matter of the complaint, but also will be more extensive and will seek to examine Facebook’s compliance more generally with Irish data protection law,” Gary Davis, Irish deputy data protection commissioner, told the Financial Times.
There will be a focus on issues such as “deleted” pictures being publicly available on the Internet as well as the privacy settings which are not adequate.
Facebook spokesperson Andrew Noyes said, “We believe this complaint is without merit, and we will fight it vigorously.” Facebook also maintained that any information obtained after logging out of Facebook is deleted by the company.
The bigger question that arises from this instance is how many other companies are aggregating similar intelligent data from users on the Internet.
The world’s most popular search engine Google recently automatically transferred contacts from Gmail accounts to Google’s Buzz accounts without authorization, which is another social network platform.