Woman says Facebook cookies violate wiretap laws, files suit


Brooke Rutledge of Lafayette County, Mississippi has sued Facebook for allegedly violating federal wiretap laws by illegally tracking her Internet activity while logged out of the social networking site. The 17-page filing seems to have been prompted by a recent discovery by Australian blogger Nik Cubrilovic. In late September, Cubrilovic released an article explaining how Facebook could track users across the Web on any page running a Facebook widget, such as the "Like" button seen at the bottom of TechSpot's articles.

"Leading up to September 23, 2011, Facebook tracked, collected, and stored its users' wire or electronic communications, including but not limited to portions of their internet browsing history even when the users were not logged-in to Facebook," says Rutledge's complaint, which she hopes will reach class-action status. It goes on to say that Rutledge didn't authorize Facebook to intercept, track, collect and store her electronic communications such as browsing history when not logged in to the social site.

Facebook's privacy policy informs users that when visiting sites with plugins such as the Like button, your browser will send certain information back to Facebook, but your account ID is supposed to be excluded if you're not logged in. The policy specifically claims: "If you're logged out or don't have a Facebook account and visit a website with the Like button or another social plugin, your browser sends us a more limited set of information. For example, because you're not logged in to Facebook, we don't receive your User ID."