Facebook sued for $15 billion over alleged privacy infractions

A class-action lawsuit filed by Stewarts Law US combines 21 cases across the U.S.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read
Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook has been hit with a class-action lawsuit.
Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook has been hit with a class-action lawsuit. James Martin/CNET

As Facebook prepares to start trading on the Nasdaq, a class-action lawsuit has been brought against it.

Law firm Stewarts Law US announced today that it has combined 21 privacy lawsuits against the social network into a single, class-action suit, charging the world's largest social network with violating user privacy by allegedly tracking their Web usage.

Stewarts Law is asking for $15 billion -- a sum it arrived at by calling on the U.S. Wiretap Act, which "provides statutory damages of the greater of $100 per violation per day, up to $10,000, per Facebook user," the law firm wrote in its suit, according to Bloomberg, which was first to report on the story.

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Facebook is certainly no stranger to privacy lawsuits. Back in 2009, the company was hit with a civil lawsuit in California over charges that it violated the state's consumer privacy laws. Back in March, the company was sued by 13 individuals after allegedly uploading their address books without permission. Path, Twitter, and Apple were also included in that lawsuit.

For Stewarts, timing is everything. The law firm filed the lawsuit just hours before Facebook was set to offer its shares on Nasdaq for $38. Interestingly, the sum Stewarts and its plaintiffs are seeking -- $15 billion -- is just $1 billion shy of the cash Facebook will raise in its offering.

However, that damages amount could go up. In a statement to Bloomberg, David Straite, a partner at Stewarts, said his firm is "evaluating the way in which non-U.S. residents" could be added to the plaintiffs list

CNET has contacted Facebook for comment on the class-action lawsuit. We will update this story when we have more information.