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Facebook sues Profile Technology in control fight over user data

By Joel Rosenblatt

Bloomberg News

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 06:26 a.m. HST, Feb 02, 2013


Facebook Inc. accused an application developer in a lawsuit of continuing to display information about users of the social-networking website after Facebook tried to add protections to the data.

Profile Technology Ltd. failed to keep its agreement to delete the Facebook user data it accessed and displayed on the ProfileEngine.com website, according to a complaint filed Friday in federal court in San Jose, California.

Profile Technology, based in Auckland, was supposed to delete the information in October 2010 and continues to “use and display out-of-date user data to this day,” Facebook said in the complaint. Profile Technology “refused to stop displaying user data” on its website and “refused to delete or return” the information, according to the complaint.

The information includes, among other information, users’ names, photographs and names of friends with links to data that Profile Technology stored, according to the filing.

Facebook’s suit, which follows a complaint Profile Technology brought in California state court in San Mateo County in October, is “retaliatory” and “procedural gamesmanship” because it was filed as the companies were in the middle of settlement negotiations, Ira Rothken, a lawyer for Profile Technology, said in a phone interview.

By going to court, Facebook is breaking its contractual obligation to resolve the matter in arbitration, Rothken said.

’Improper Conduct’

“We believe Facebook is going to have to pay substantial damages for their improper conduct,” he said.

Profile Technology in its complaint accused the social networking company of a “campaign of destruction” to “impede and interfere with” Profile Technology.

By agreement with Facebook, Profile Technology’s “Advanced Search” program relied on “automated crawling” of publicly available information on Facebook’s website to make the data accessible and searchable, according to the October complaint.

Without notice, Facebook closed off access to the automated crawlers, terminated Profile Technology’s Facebook account, and blocked Facebook links to Profile Technology applications that had nothing to do with its search engine, according to Profile Technology’s complaint. The company alleges breach of contract, defamation and unfair business practices.

Revoked License

According to Facebook’s complaint, the social networking website revoked Profile Technology’s license to access the data in November 2011, after users complained to the Menlo Park, California-based company.

“We’re focused on maintaining the integrity of our site and ensuring developers adhere to the rules,” Andrew Noyes, a spokesman for Facebook, said in an e-mail. “If we find that someone has violated our policies, we take action.”

The case is Facebook v. Profile Technology, 13-00459, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose). The state court case is Profile Technology v. Facebook, CIV517219, California Superior Court, San Mateo County.







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