Class Action Lawsuit Brought Against Zynga Over FarmVille Privacy Concerns

A group of Facebook users have filed a class action lawsuit against Zynga over its "alleged practice of illegally sharing the Facebook user data of its customers with advertisers and data brokers."

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in San Francisco, CA and "seeks monetary relief for those whose data was wrongly shared, and injunctive relief to prevent continued privacy abuses."

When users connect their Facebook account with FarmVille, the following disclaimer is displayed:

FarmVille is requesting permission to do the following:

Access my basic information
Includes name, profile picture, gender, networks, user ID, list of friends, and any other information I've shared with everyone.

Additionally, the Privacy Policy for FarmVille and other Zynga titles makes it very clear that your information will be used in a variety of ways, though it does state that Zynga will not "sell or rent your 'Personally Identifiable Information' to any third party," but it may "use certain information about you that is not personally identifiable."

The class action suit might have some merit if Zynga has been selling any "personally identifiable information" to third-parties, but if not, the suit might get thrown out.

"This appears to be another example of an online company failing the American public with empty promises to respect individual privacy rights," explained Michael Aschenbrener of Edelson McGuire LLC, co-lead attorney for the class action. It could be.

It could also be another example of people not reading Terms of Use agreements and Privacy Policies and then getting upset when a company does something it explicitly stated it would do.

In any case, when your personal information is involved, do yourself a favor and actually read what you're agreeing to on the Internet.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    October 20, 2010 1:55 PM

    Could this become the first chink in the armor of the EULA?

    • reply
      October 20, 2010 2:32 PM

      two different animals. the former being about a document from a particular company regarding what they will and wont do with your 'basic data'. the latter a License attached to a good or service about what the consumer is allowed to do with said company's product.

      • reply
        October 20, 2010 3:35 PM

        Terms of Service already had a chink put into it, when Linden Labs tried to hide behind it in the lawsuits against them / Secondlife, and the courts ruled the ToS was to confusing for the average person to be legally binding.

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          October 20, 2010 6:01 PM

          That's inaccurate. Bragg v. Linden included a ruling that the "Mandatory Arbitration" clause (the part that prevents you from suing LInden) was nonenforceable. That's quite different from proclaiming a ToS "too confusing" to be binding; it just means that Linden can't require you to sign away all right to pursue legal action. The case itself was settled out of court.