We’re back once again with another roundup and some more class action…action. Anyway, here’s the latest in class action news, including the FTC getting involved in the Facebook data mining scandal, a settlement from Pokémon Go’s Niantic, and a handful of app makers getting final approval to settle a privacy class action.
FTC Launches Investigation into Facebook’s Privacy Practice
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has officially announced the launch of its investigation into the Facebook privacy issue. If you haven’t heard, Facebook and Cambridge Analytica were hit with a proposed class action on March 20th claiming that the duo was working together to illegally mine Facebook users’ personal information without their consent.
With the FTC stepping in, the investigation will scrutinize Facebook’s commitment to its 2011 consent decree – which essentially obligates the social media powerhouse to have unambiguous permission from its users before sharing their info with a third party – Cambridge Analytica, in this case.
Facebook says that it is willing to comply with the FTC, but if the investigation finds Facebook guilty, the social network could be forced to pay up to $40,000 per violation.
For more information on the investigation, as well as the FTC’s official statement, be sure to check out this article from The Verge.
Niantic Settles Pokémon Go Fest Lawsuit
Pokémon Go developer Niantic has recently agreed to pay nearly $1.6 million to ease the damage caused by last year’s Pokémon Go Fest. The event was supposed to be an outdoor festival in Chicago to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Niantic’s hit augmented reality game – but things didn’t turn out so great. The sheer amount of people (roughly 20,000) trying to join in on the fun took a toll on cellular connectivity and ended up crashing the game.
Niantic immediately said it would refund ticket prices and give attendees $100 of in-game currency, but according to the lawsuit, that still left many stuck with airfare, hotel costs and parking fees. The settlement site is expected to be live by May 25th, 2018 – which is less than a year after the case was initially filed and pretty quick as far as class actions go.
This article from TechCrunch can take you deeper if you are looking for more info.
Consumers Soon to Be Paid in Twitter, Instagram Privacy Class Action
A judge has given final approval to a settlement that resolves claims that a handful of app developers (including Instagram and Twitter) took personal information from Apple devices without users’ consent. Out of the seventeen defendants who were initially included in the litigation, eight are covered by the $5.3 million settlement, which reached preliminary approval in April 2017. These include:
Twitter Instagram Yelp Foursquare Foodspotting Gowalla Kik Interactive Kong Technologies
The case was initially filed back in 2012 with a settlement being in the works for most of last year. See what I mean when I say these types of cases can take a while?
Those who submitted claims by last year’s Nov. 10 deadline will receive an Amazon.com credit or a physical postcard check for their portion of the settlement.
Be sure to check out Courthouse News for a closer look at the litigation from start to finish.
Target Settles Lawsuit Over Allegedly Discriminatory Background Checks
Target is shelling out $3.7 million to settle claims that the background checks it uses as part of its hiring process discriminate against black and Latino applicants. In addition, the settlement requires that Target work with independent consultants to make changes to its screening process. (For instance, the consultants may recommend that the retail giant create a list of convictions that would not affect someone’s ability to perform a job so that any applicant with such a conviction on his or her background check would not be automatically disqualified.)
The settlement allows black and Latino individuals who, since May 2006, were denied a job with Target because of their background checks the chance to immediately interview – or be hired for – an open position. In the alternative, class members can collect up to $1,000. Target will also be donating $600,000 to five organizations, including California’s A New Way of Life Reentry Project, that help those with criminal backgrounds find employment.
You can read more from the StarTribune here.
Bank of America Accused of Misleading Clients About Stock Trades
In our last entry of the day, we find Bank of America agreeing to pay a $42 million penalty for alleged violations of New York securities law. According to an investigation lodged by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Bank of America has been lying to its institutional clients about how it handled stock trades for nearly five years.
Apparently, the bank led its clients to believe – via “doctored paperwork” – that its stock trades were taking place in house when they really weren’t, instead being shipped off to “electronic market makers such as Citadel Securities, Knight Capital and now-defunct Madoff Securities.” This “masking” scheme, as reports call it, supposedly allowed BofA to fly under the radar and misleadingly handle more than four billion shares of its stock.
I’m not a financial expert myself, so for a more in-depth look you should head over to CNN Money and check out this article. The report notes, importantly, that many of the clients affected by the “masking” scheme were “mutual and pension funds that everyday investors own portions of.”