Facebook has won a major lawsuit against Power.com that was filed in 2008. According to the lawsuit, Facebook had accused Power Venvutes of using Power.com to spam Facebook and then steal data from the network.
US District Judge James ruled that Facebook had proven its case, and that they could seek damages against Power.com. “The undisputed facts establish that defendants circumvented technical barriers” to access Facebook’s site, Ware wrote in a 19-page opinion.
Power.com had billed itself as a one-stop storage place for social network users, but Facebook had argued that accessing its site without permission was essentially nothing more than hacking and a violation of the terms and conditions of Facebook. Facebook claimed Power Ventures sent more than 60,000 unsolicited commercial messages to Facebook users and intentionally circumvented measures that Facebook put in place to block Power Ventures’ access to the site.
Power argued that all they were doing was allowing users to access mutliple social networking accounts from one place, and that Facebook was doing nothing but being anti-competitive.
Craig Clark, the attorney for Facebook said, “We are pleased that the court ruled in our favor. We will continue to enforce our rights against bad actors who attempt to circumvent Facebook’s privacy and security protections and spam people.”
Power.com unfortunately is basically out of business, and is on the sales block as noted on its front page.
Steve Vachani, the founder of Power.com (and the guy behind FreeLotto.com) responded to the lawsuit loss, with the following statement, claiming that this was a dangerous precedent.
Today, Facebook has established a dangerous precedent for the future of users rights to own and control their data.
Power, together with unwavering support from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, has fought tirelessly over the users rights to truly own and control their data. This decision dangerously manipulates and broadens laws so that that millions of users who want to access their own data or tell their friends about new services could now face criminal liability.
With this decision, ironically Facebook could now face billions of dollars in damages and endless lawsuits and criminal damages over the tools it has provided hundreds of millions of its users tools to import their contacts and invite nearly 1 billion of their friends into Facebook.
Our commitment to fight for users rights to own and control their data will now only get stronger and we intend to aggressively continue this fight to ensure that Facebook will eventually be held responsible and accountable for the damages caused its systematic suppression of startup innovation that threatens its business interests and for its ongoing history of gross abuses against the rights of its own users.
Please also refer to the Electronic Frontier Foundation comments on this issue.
On June 17th, the Electronic Frontier Foundation clearly articulated just how dangerous this decision could be to the future of the Internet
“Facebook wants to prevent users from choosing follow-on innovation that it doesn’t like, so it’s asking the court to broaden computer crime laws in ways that would let it manufacture and cherry-pick lawsuits against users and competitors,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann.
“Facebook’s position would create legal uncertainty for tech start-ups everywhere, stifling innovation and competition. No one would want to challenge a behemoth like Facebook with the specter of criminal charges looming over interoperability.”