(Sept 15): The National Football League was sued for allegedly sharing digital subscribers’ personal data with Meta Platforms Inc’s Facebook, becoming the latest target of consumers claiming companies pass on private information to the social media site without their consent.
NFL.com subscriber Israel James of Illinois sued the league in Chicago federal court Wednesday seeking to represent hundreds of thousands of other subscribers of the website in a class action.
The world’s largest social network has been sued and investigated by regulators over privacy issues over the last decade, most often over allegations that the company illegally collects information on users that it uses for targeted advertising.
In his lawsuit, James claims the NFL installed a Facebook pixel on its website — a computer code that tracks when digital subscribers enter NFL.com or NFL.com’s accompanying app and view videos. NFL.com tracks and discloses to Facebook the digital subscribers’ viewed videos, and most notably, the digital subscribers’ Facebook ID, according to the complaint.
“This occurs even when the digital subscriber has not shared [nor consented to share] such information,” James said in the complaint.
From the Facebook ID, the social media company can easily find and view the subscriber’s corresponding Facebook profile, according to the complaint.
The NFL didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
James is seeking US$2,500 in compensation for each member of the class, as well as unspecified punitive damages.
The lawsuit targeting the NFL follows similar suits filed against CNN parent Warner Bros Discovery Inc, Buzzfeed owner Huffington Post and Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News. Meta also faces at least two proposed class-action lawsuits claiming its pixel tracking tool harvests patients’ private medical data from health-care provider web portals and shares the information with Facebook.
Warner Bros, Buzzfeed, Bloomberg and Meta didn’t immediately respond to emailed requests for comment.
The football league is violating the Video Privacy Protection Act by disclosing its digital subscribers’ identities and files containing viewed media to Facebook without the proper consent, James said in the complaint.
“Without telling its digital subscribers, defendant profits handsomely from its unauthorised disclosure of its digital subscribers’ Personal Viewing Information to Facebook,” James said in the complaint. “It does so at the expense of its digital subscribers’ privacy.”
The case is James v. National Football League, 1:22-cv-04984, US District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago)