Non-profit legal firm argues Supreme Court should throw out biometric privacy suit against Facebook
The Washington Legal Foundation (WLF) has filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, urging the body to accept Facebook’s petition for a review of a decision by the Ninth Circuit to allow a class-action suit filed against the company under Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) to move forward.
The brief blasts the decision to permit what it characterizes as a “no-harm class action,” and says that certifying the suit practically eliminates the standing requirement under Article III of all cases relating to privacy. The incentive to file dubious claims, and pressure to settle potentially enormous claims, “is corrosive to our civil justice system,” the WLF writes.
Whether Article III standing can exist without “a personal, real-world injury from the alleged statutory violation” is examined in the brief, with reference to precedence from 18 cases, along with several articles, including one titled ‘The Invention of the Right to Privacy,’ which shows that there is not long-standing historical basis for privacy rights.
WLF argues that review by the Supreme Court is necessary to ensure an ahistorical exception to Article III requirements, and “to stem the tide of abusive class actions invited” by the precedence it would set.
BIPA lawsuits have undeniably been increasing greatly in number over the course of the year, though none carries with it the Facebook suit’s potential for $30 billion in damages in the case of reckless or intentional violations, or $6 billion for accidental violations.
On filing its appeal to the Supreme Court, Facebook argued that the plaintiffs have failed to show harm because they have not alleged they would have done anything differently if they had received a different disclosure than the one Facebook provided them with. One plaintiff has allegedly continued using the service he or she is suing over.
WLF is a public-interest law firm and legal policy center that advocates for corporate freedoms.