Did you link your Pandora account with Facebook when the integration launched in 2010? Did you feel that your privacy was being infringed upon by doing so? If so, you might be upset to learn that the justice system doesn’t agree with you.
U.S. District Judge Saundra Armstrong ruled that Pandora didn’t violate its users privacy when it allowed users to link their accounts with Facebook. The option allowed users to share what music they were currently listening to with friends and family over the social network. The option landed the Internet radio company in hot water as a class action suit was brought against them over an old Michigan law.
The law in question pre-dates the Internet and prevents a company that rents or lends sound recordings from sharing a customer’s rental history. In a way, it’s similar to VPPA. The only difference is that this law is only enforced on the state level, whereas VPPA is a federal law that has been a thorn in Netflix’ side since time immemorial.
So, Netflix gets slapped with a massive fine over not deleting customer records, but Pandora gets away with sharing directly to Facebook. What gives? For one, Armstrong says that a class action lawsuit can’t be filed by someone who has not “suffered actual loss.” In fact, the law firm that brought the suit against Pandora doesn’t even have an office in Michigan. They roped in a Michigan resident to file what now appears to be a frivolous lawsuit.
The court also agreed with Pandora on that the service doesn’t rent music. They are a streaming service, and should be treated differently. It’s a technicality, but a technicality that saved them from a potentially disastrous loss as the Michigan law requires those who break the law to pay out $5,000 per person. CNET estimates that such a payout would cost Pandora over $25 billion.
According to CNET, the legal firm that brought the original suit against Pandora is now weighing their options. The firm said that it will make a decision soon on whether or not to appeal the judge’s ruling. We’ll bring you an update if the firm decides to continue its campaign for misguided privacy protections.