NFL is latest target in data sharing lawsuits with Meta


The National Football League was sued for allegedly sharing personal data of digital subscribers with Meta Platforms Inc.’s Facebook, becoming the latest target of consumers alleging that companies pass on private information to the social media site without their consent.

Illinois subscriber Israel James sued in Chicago federal court on Wednesday to represent hundreds of thousands of other subscribers to the website in a class action.

The world’s largest social network has been sued and investigated by regulators over the past decade over privacy concerns, mostly over allegations that the company is illegally collecting information about users that it uses for targeted advertising.

In his lawsuit, James alleges that the NFL installed a Facebook pixel on its website — a computer code that tracks when digital subscribers enter or its companion app from and watch videos. tracks and discloses to Facebook the videos watched by the digital subscribers, and specifically the Facebook ID of the digital subscribers, according to the complaint.

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“This happens even when the digital subscriber has not shared (or consented to) such information,” James said in the complaint.

From the Facebook ID, according to the complaint, the social media company can easily find and view the subscriber’s associated Facebook profile.

The NFL did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

James is demanding $2,500 in compensation for each class member, as well as unspecified damages.

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The lawsuit against the NFL follows similar lawsuits filed against CNN mother Warner Bros. Discovery Inc., Buzzfeed owner Huffington Post and Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News. Meta is also facing at least two proposed class-action lawsuits alleging that its pixel-tracking tool collects patients’ personal medical information from healthcare providers’ web portals and shares the information with Facebook.

Warner Bros., Buzzfeed, Bloomberg and Meta did not immediately respond to email requests for comment.

The football league is violating the Video Privacy Protection Act by disclosing the identities of its digital subscribers and files of viewed media to Facebook without proper permission, James said in the complaint.

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“Without informing its digital subscribers, Defendant is profiting heavily from the unauthorized disclosure of its digital subscribers’ personal viewing information to Facebook,” James said in the indictment. “It does this at the expense of the privacy of its digital subscribers.”

The case is James v. National Football League, 1:22-cv-04984, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago)

Photo: Photographer: Chris Delmas/TBEN/Getty Images

Copyright 2022 Bloomberg.


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