If you don't likeTarget swiping your card...

jessyfNovember 5, 2009

....don't use Facebook and Blockbuster, either.

Texas Woman Sues Facebook for Privacy Violations

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Worried about your privacy online? So is a woman from Texas, who's suing Facebook and Blockbuster for posting too much information about her on the Web.

Cathryn Harris found out after the fact that Facebook added a note every time she rented a movie from Blockbuster a note that contained her full name and the name of the movie she was renting.

"I wasn't renting any movies that I'm ashamed of, but what if I had been? It's nobody's business," Harris told MyFoxDFW. "They need to follow the laws and respect their customers' privacy and not try to go behind the curtain."

The 25-year-old homemaker from Dallas County, Texas, said she made the discovery last year when she rented the 1985 adventure film "The Jewel of the Nile," starring Kathleen Turner, Michael Douglas and Danny DeVito. She said an alert appeared on her Facebook profile detailing the transaction.

As a result, Harris filed two lawsuits  one against Blockbuster last year and one against Facebook last month. The suits claim a partnership between the two companies allowed Blockbuster to send Harris' movie-renting habits to Facebook without fair opportunity to opt out.

At the heart of the suit is Facebook's controversial Beacon system, essentially a tracking flag that follows you across a network of sites and reports back to Facebook on your activity. For consumers, it's a way to share more information about your daily activity; for advertisers, it's a way to learn a great deal more about an individual.

Following public outcry over the system in late 2007, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg publicly apologized for the Beacon system, noting that "the problem with our initial approach of making it an opt-out system instead of opt-in was that if someone forgot to decline to share something, Beacon still went ahead and shared it with their friends."

Facebook's policy has been changed, but Harris' lawsuit alleges that whether a consumer opts in or out, Beacon is a violation of the Video Privacy Protection Act. That piece of law prevents a company from disclosing information about a customer's rental habits without their knowledge; the suit alleges that Beacon still transfers information, it just doesn't display it.

Harris initially sued Blockbuster, arguing that the company is responsible for her privacy. But Blockbuster disagrees. A spokesman for the company said "Âany information we send our customers is done in accordance with all privacy laws  a customer with a Facebook account is in control of whether they elect to keep their Facebook information private or disclose it to others."

In the meantime, the online social networking giant is settling a similar California lawsuit and has agreed to discontinue the Beacon advertising program. In response to the case, Facebook said it learned "how critical it is to provide extensive user control over how information is shared."

The outcome of the California case could determine whether Harris can move forward with a class-action lawsuit.

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doucanoe

I am apalled by this "opt out" thing. Used to be one had to sign a document to allow something, now you have to sign up to disallow!

Ain't nothin' right about any of it!

Linda

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 8:27AM
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dedtired

This is very disturbing. I really like Facebook and have reconnected with some long lost friends as well as keeping up on the lives of others.

Lately I notice that FB suggests that you "poke" a friend (gross) or mentions that someone only has some small number of friends -- why don't I suggest some? Or that someone needs a profile picture, and why don't I suggest one.

I do think you have a fair number of options to not reveal personal info. You don't have to fill in your birthday, home town, phone numbers,etc.

I had no idea FB was linked to activity on other sites. Wonder if my CF posts will show up on FB??

Still, I am enjoying FB. If I had younger children I would be very cautious about allowing them to participate.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 9:43AM
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sushipup1

OK, I KNEW that I thought that FB is creepy. I just don't like revealing any personal information. You can probably find me by using google, if you are determined to find me. That's enough for me.

((shudder))

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 10:10AM
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doucanoe

I agree.

I just closed my Facebook account. Anyone I want to reach I will call, write or e-mail.

Linda

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 10:27AM
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centralcacyclist

Sadly, if you Google my name and artist together you will come up with links to a VERY bad painter! I probably need more of a web presence so that people don't confuse us.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 10:35AM
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centralcacyclist

I confess, I'm hooked on Farmville. I have a dairy barn, a cottage, a pond, and a really cool crop circle...

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 11:10AM
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goldgirl

barnmom - Me too! That's the only game or application I use. Love the alien cows :)

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 11:24AM
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doucanoe

Too funny. I just googled my name and firstly, I was amazed how many people have the same name as me! Secondly, I found "me" on one site and followed through up until they wanted money.

They had all my past addresses, past names, etc. But there were a couple of names on there that I have never been known by, a couple household members I have never heard of, and a couple of "relatives" that I have never been related to!

We are the only people to ever have our address, but still get mail for people that have never lived here. I recognized a couple of the names on that list. Now I understand why I get that mail, but how those names ever got associated with me I'll never know.

Linda

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 11:29AM
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centralcacyclist

Oh goody! Lets be neighbors! I think you can find me on Facebook using my name, Eileen Anderson. I'll add you as a friend. My profile photo is a Hawaiian sunrise.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 11:59AM
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dedtired

I've got to give Farmville a try. A lot of my Friends play it, at least the ones who aren't playing Bejeweled Blitz or the Mafia one (you know who you are!).

FB is blocked at work. Probably a good thing.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 12:40PM
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Gina_W

Creepy.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 3:47PM
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beanthere_dunthat

The more intertwined all these social networking sites get, the more anti-social I become.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 9:49PM
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centralcacyclist

Goldgirl has a very nice Farmville spread! ;)

    Bookmark   November 6, 2009 at 12:32AM
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publickman

I'm not easily found on the 'net, and so I don't have much to worry about, but then I have multiple identities. I boycott Blockbuster - why would anyone go there anyway, since there are so many other better options for videos. We never rent anything - we either buy from Amazon or record from cable, and we have much more than we can watch now. Kevin gets free screener DVDs from Sony, and he also gets to see free screenings on the Sony lot. I get to go too, if I want to, and he invited me to see the Michael Jackson movie, but I'm not interested. The drawback is that I would have to wait in line to get in, and I don't think it is worth it, especially since Kevin will get a free DVD when it comes out anyway.

Lars

    Bookmark   November 7, 2009 at 3:10AM
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jessyf

I tried but I just couldn't pick a fight with my local Target.

I went there to pick up some stuff and, for a lark, an extra bottle of cough syrup. Just to see how much of a stink I could start. I was all ready to politely raise my voice so everyone within earshot could hear 'NO THANK YOU, I DON'T WANT YOU TO SCAN MY DL FOR MY PERSONAL INFORMATION JUST FOR COUGH SYRUP'.

When the cashier asked for my DL, I said 'you can look at it, but you can't scan it'. She said 'no problem hon, whats your birthday'. Since I use gift cards that I purchase in bulk with cash (keeps me untraceable), I figured what the hey and gave her a date a month off my real one. The computer wouldn't accept it, so she called her supervisior who just turned a key and nearly walked away. I repeatedly asked if they wanted to know why I didn't want to turn over my DL. Both told me not to worry, it wasn't a bother, other customers do the same thing and they totally understand!

So much for my attempts at rabble rousing, LOL. Maybe I'll have better luck at Best Buy but I feel sorry for their employees.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 1:19PM
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beanthere_dunthat

Jessy, if you ever run out of stores to rabble-rouse out, I'd suggest Office Depot. They are an annoying lot about wanting too much info!

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 4:50PM
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dedtired

Talk about creepy! I just got an email from Photobucket promoting something about using one of your own photos as a skin on your cell phone. It had a demo in the ad. I took a closer look and realized they are using one of my own pictures! It was one of my vacation pictures. It gives me the willies that they go into my photos and access one and mail it out. I guess it was randomly generated but "it" chose a nice vacation photo not a shot of something like my demo-ed kitchen or a dent in my car.

Kuh-reepy.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2009 at 1:23PM
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compumom

Agreed that is creepy!! Smugmug never does that, nor does Picasa.
But can someone please explain to me why some are freaked about sharing their zipcode? As someone who processes credit cards, I know that we need that info to process electronically OR provide that scary 3 digit code on the flipside. Frankly, I'd rather share my zipcode.
Also when Michael's or some other chain store asks immediately (before ringing up my purchase) for my zipcode, I imagined it was for marketing purposes- to better determine where their customer base lives.And then they could target their advertising. Am I wrong?

    Bookmark   November 23, 2009 at 2:26PM
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jessyf

Renee, the staff at my Office Depot are always cheerful, pleasant, grateful for a job and haven't ever harrassed me. Go figure.

Pam, I somehow think that Photobucket email was personalized for you? Their technology can pick out vacation photos or tags from everyone's albums so they are getting their own pictures in the emails? Still creepy.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2009 at 3:41PM
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dedtired

Yes, I'm sure the email was personalized for me. Still it's creepy to think of some"one" going through my photos to pick one out. Kind of like the feeling you get when a burglar has gone through your house looking at and touching your personal items.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2009 at 3:59PM
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beanthere_dunthat

Compumom, you're correct, it is all (mostly) for marketing purposes. The amount of marketing information that is gathered, bought and sold on various demographics is staggering. And, frankly, the amount of information gathered about individual shopping habits is growing daily.

I'm not freaked out about giving my ZIP code; after all, the post office probably has sold it a hundred times over to anyone willing to pay for it. I just don't like that I can't walk into a Michael's and pay cash for a skein of yarn without being asked to feed their database. I have cash; they have product; I'm willing to give them cash for their product. As long as I'm not buying something age restricted or a firearm, it should end there. And I know that sounds extreme, but I guess I'm just tired of providinng companies with the information they want in order to try to maniuplate my buying habits when most of these companies have terrible customer service and provide nothing back in return. It just feels like a slow erosion of what little privacy we have left. And I also don't like the false "specials" they offer as bribes to participate in their data-mining. Loyalty programs don't work if you offer them to everyone who walks in the door. If they did, I wouldn't have six different grocery cards on my keychain. (All of them registered with the address of the town dump under Betty Boop with the phone number of the local time/temp.) But you "have" to have the loyalty card to get the sale price. (This is why I love Raley's. They stopped that nonsense. The price is the price -- for everyone.)

Of course the irony here is I used to work in marketing.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2009 at 2:16AM
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dedtired

If stores require a customer card to get discounts, I wish they would all get together and use one card. I am so tired of having 25 plastic customer cards. Of course I don't carry all of them around with me, just the few that I use a lot. I don't even understand what it is I am getting from thm. I guess I get discount at the grocery, although if I don't have my card with me the cashier just swipes in an all-purpose card and I get the reductions.

At the chain drugstores sometimes I see how many points I've "earned". So what? What am I supposed to do with them? I really really really hate those cards.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2009 at 10:03AM
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magothyrivergirl

I tried to return a pair of shoes I bought at Famous Footware originally paid for using my Visa card. The store manager refused to process the credit unless I let her scan the barcode on my drivers license. Store - company policy. Her computer won't let her!!! All returns, exchanges for size - everything - requires the Official Gov't issued pictured ID to be scanned, even if you originally paid cash! I am furious - I have never been in that store before, and won't ever go in there again. I am stuck with these shoes, because I refuse to let them scan the barcode. I spent time finding out if this is leagal - in this state it is - what may be illegal is what is done with the data they capture - like we really know! Between the "secret data" on that drivers license barcode (MVA couldn't tell me all that was on there) and your credit card # and profile - does anyone else see the potential for Identity theft or worse?
It is easier to shop online, and becoming safer.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2009 at 6:35PM
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doucanoe

It won't be long before we won't have any identity to steal.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2009 at 1:52PM
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canarybird01

What do they do with people who don't drive so have no DL?
Is it then not possible to return or exchange goods ?

SharonCb

    Bookmark   November 27, 2009 at 3:52PM
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beanthere_dunthat

Sharon, there are photo ID cards issued through each state's Department of Motor Vehicles to people who cannot or do not drive. I don't know about every state, but in the four states I've lived in, it looks very much like a license with much of the same info on it. Unless you have a passport (the ultimate ID) you pretty much have to have one to get anything done. Most places recognize them as carrying the same weight as a DL for ID purposes -- although every now and then I still get a hard time from someone unfamiliar with them. I wrote a check in a store not too long ago and the cashier insisted she could ONLY accept a DL as ID as it was their policy. "Well, the DMV has a policy of not issuing driver's licenses to blind people, so we have a problem, don't we?" The manager took one look at me with my white cane, and took the check without another word. LOL!

    Bookmark   November 27, 2009 at 4:11PM
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canarybird01

Thanks Renée!

I imagine there are a lot of people who don't drive for one reason or another so it seems to make things difficult at times for them.

Here people (non-Spanish) are asked for their residence card or passport, and Spanish nationals their government ID. Usually people have one or the other with them.

SharonCb

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 6:42AM
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jessyf

Just read an article in the LA Times about tracking pseudoephedrine sales - a component of meth. A bit of an 'aha, that's why' moment, but the Robitussin I buy doesn't have that chemical.

I think the debate as to privacy etc. is an issue too, nuff said.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 6:56AM
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compumom

I thought you knew that, I meant to post about it,but just didn't have the time. Yep, EVERYWHERE takes your DL if you buy a sudafed product.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 5:03PM
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jessyf

Hey Ellen. I haven't bought sudafed in years, I don't touch the stuff, so I had no clue. I can understand that one for the database. But wine?

What I also can't figure out is why they would card for Guaifenesin and Dextromethorphan.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 6:03PM
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beanthere_dunthat

It doesn't do any good if the databases aren't linked. Someone up to no good with the product isn't going to buy it at the same chain all the time.

Dextromethorphan makes sense, Jessy. In large enough doses, it has effects similar to PCP. It's considered a "recreational drug" in those doses.

I honestly don't think any of these measures really stop addicts from doing what they are hell-bent on doing; it just inconveniences everyone else.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 8:46PM
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