Has Facebook violated data laws again?
A new complaint claims that Facebook and Instagram parent firm Meta continued to snoop through a loophole despite Apple’s significant privacy update to iOS last year, making it much more difficult for applications to track user behavior outside of their own borders.
The complaint, which is posted below, was submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and claims that Meta used Facebook’s in-app browser, which opens links inside the app, to track users in order to get around Apple’s new limits. Anyone impacted, which in the case of Facebook might imply hundreds of millions of U.S. users, could sign on to the planned class-action lawsuit, first reported by Bloomberg.
In the case, two Facebook users claim that Meta is not only abusing Apple’s regulations but also state and federal privacy laws, such as the Wiretap Act, which made it unlawful to eavesdrop on electronic conversations without the recipient’s consent. A comparable lawsuit (Mitchell v. Meta Platforms Inc.) was submitted just last week.
When Apple released iOS 14.5 in April of last year, it dealt a devastating blow to social network companies like Meta that rely on user activity tracking for advertising. In its earnings calls, the company notably referenced the iOS changes as it prepared investors to accept the new normal for its ad targeting business. It called Apple’s privacy changes a “headwind” that it would have to fight.