The Law Office of Lynnette Ariathurai A Professional Corporation

Facebook says contract dispute should be handled in California

Modern technological advances have muddied the waters when it comes to cut and dry decisions pertaining to legal issues regarding the Internet. Facebook, the popular global social network site, attempted to remind the court recently that its user agreement specifically states that a contract dispute regarding its site is to be addressed under California law. The court apparently shot down the raised objection this past week.

The situation involves a biometric technology that scans facial features to identify people in photographs posted to Facebook. The site then sends suggestions to users, asking whether they would like to tag others in specific photos. A putative class action lawsuit has stated that Facebook's usage of this type of technology is illegal. The issue seems to be, however, that it is illegal in a state other than California. 

It is actually the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act that says a person's permission must be granted in writing in order to collect biometric data. Part of that permission includes specifics as to how data will be collected, for what purpose and for how long the data will be stored. Facebook claimed that using an Illinois statute as the basis of the class action lawsuit is in violation of its user agreement, which says all legal disputes must be resolved under California law.

The court ruled that because potential Facebook users open an account and agree to terms of service in a single click, the user agreement is very minimally enforceable. The complicated contract dispute remains unresolved at this time; so far, the class action lawsuit has won the first round. This is obviously only one of many types of legal disagreements that may occur through use of social network sites on the Internet. A California business and commercial law attorney would be a valuable resource to anyone seeking resolutions to such disputes.

Source:, "Class Action Over Facebook's Biometric Photo Tagging Goes Forward", Casey C. Sullivan, May 10, 2016

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