Facebook, Zynga beat wiretap lawsuits

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Facebook and Zynga have defeated class-action lawsuits accusing the companies of civil wiretapping allegations connected to advertising practices.

The Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals, in a joint opinion filed last week on the two lawsuits [PDF], ruled the advertising practices at issue did not involve wiretapping. The San Francisco-based appeals court, however, reinstated allegations that Facebook violated its terms of service for its users, which now number about 1.2 billion.

The case concerned allegations that, when advertisements on Facebook and Zynga games like Farmville were clicked on the social network, the Facebook page addresses and Facebook IDs were collected and disclosed to advertisers without permission. But that did not amount to wiretapping under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which makes it illegal to disclose "contents" of a communication, the appeals court ruled.