Supreme Court rules in favour of B.C. resident in Facebook lawsuit

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In a four to three decision, Canada’s Supreme Court has ruled that a privacy lawsuit against Facebook can be heard in British Columbia instead of the social media giant’s home state of California.

The decision paves the way for a lawsuit that was originally filed in 2012 to move forward. The suit involves British Columbia resident Deborah Douez, who says the company used her name and photos without her permission to promote “sponsored stories,” an advertising product that saw the company use the name and photos of Facebook users to sell products and services to other members of the social media network. In her original suit, Douez argued her privacy rights were violated under B.C. provincial law.

Facebook, for its part, tried to get the lawsuit thrown out on account of the fact that its terms of use state that all legal disputes must be addressed in California.

Calling that particular clause of the company’s terms of use a “gross inequality of barging power,” the Supreme Court reasoned that a B.C. provincial court is much better equipped to rule on the province’s privacy laws than one of its peers in California. The justices also reasoned that the inconvenience Facebook would have to face as a result of making its records available in British Columbia was minor when compared to the fact that a Canadian citizen would have to travel to the U.S. to have their case heard.

In a similar lawsuit in the U.S., the company settled for $20 million.