Involvement with Facebook's Beacon lands Blockbuster in court

The mess surrounding Facebook's Beacon service is still claiming victims: a Texas woman has sued Blockbuster over its involvement.

Cathryn Harris sued the movie rental chain on April 9 in US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Harris claims that by sharing her rental information with Facebook, the company ran afoul of the Video Privacy Protection Act of 1988. Even after Facebook users opt out, she contends, their information is still being sent on to the Web site.

"A video tape service provider who knowingly discloses, to any person, personally identifiable information concerning any consumer of such provider shall be liable to the aggrieved person for the relief," reads 18 USC 2710.


Harris is seeking class action status for the suit.

Passed in 1988, the original law came about as a reaction to the disclosure of Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork's video rental records in the press. In some states, legislatures have gone even further in making renter's records private.

Blockbuster denies any wrongdoing, saying its partnership with Facebook had "numerous levels" of protection built in to protect its subscribers. Only those who subscribed to the online rental service had those records shared.

Beacon quickly became a public relations disaster for Facebook. While initially it was billed as an innovative way for friends to track one another's online travels, it quickly became viewed as a invasion of privacy.

Thousands of Facebook users complained about the service, eventually causing CEO Jeff Zuckerberg to publicly apologize for it. Now, users have to opt into the program if they wish to share their information.

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