Facebook Beacon Privacy Fiasco Gets Dragged On

As a decision on the proposed settlement is delayed by the judge

  A decision on the proposed settlement in the Facebook Beacon lawsuit is delayed by the judge
Privacy controversies are no stranger to any web company, especially giants like Google and Facebook. While exaggerated in some cases and outright misguided in others, plenty of times the company has things to answer for. And on few occasions does a company make such a dumb move that it's hard to imagine what was the thought process and how the people responsible ever thought it was a good idea or how they'd get away with it. One such move was Facebook's Beacon ad program, which created a privacy fiasco and finally led to a class-action lawsuit. The lawsuit was settled last year, but it seems that not all parties agree with the terms leading to a delay on the decision of whether to approve it or not.

Judge Richard Seeborg of the San Jose, California U.S. District Court has postponed any ruling on the settlement for now. The $9.5 million settlement will have to wait in limbo a while longer. In its current form, the settlement has Facebook shutting down Beacon for good, this pretty much goes without saying. On the monetary side, $6 million of the $9.5 million will go towards setting up a new privacy foundation to guard over Facebook and other web services, though the independence of the foundation is being questioned.

The 19 individuals who filed the class-action lawsuit will get $1,000 to $15,000 each, totaling about $500,000. Finally, the remaining $3 million will go to the lawyers who handled the case. If anyone was wondering why law firms love filing these types of lawsuits in the US, there's your answer. What about the estimated 3.6 million Facebook users that were affected by the Beacon program? Well, they get nothing aside from the peace of mind that their Blockbuster rentals are as private as they should probably be.

The reason why the judge has reserved a decision on the matter is that several groups have filed their objections to the current form of the settlement. The main issue is with the planned privacy foundation, which will be overseen, in part, by Facebook's Director of public policy, Tim Sparapani, who will act as co-president at the foundation. The second gripe is with the fact that the bulk of the users that were affected will get nothing. [via MediaPost]

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By    1 Mar 2010, 12:07 GMT