Suing technology firms when they mess up is already hard, especially when it’s over privacy violations. Now, Facebook, Google, and the trade groups representing all the big tech firms are asking the Supreme Court to make it even harder for class actions to pursue cases against them.
Facebook, Google, and all the others submitted a filing (PDF) to the Supreme Court this week essentially arguing that if you cannot prove the specific extent to which their screwup injured you, you should not have any grounds to be part of a lawsuit against them.
Class-action suits start with a lead plaintiff—basically a representative of the group who stands in for hundreds or thousands of other individuals in a similar, or theoretically similar—but not necessarily identical—situation. This is particularly key in cases relating to privacy and data, where a small handful of plaintiffs for whom something goes badly wrong may be the reason that hundreds, thousands, or even millions of users then discover that their data is being similarly mishandled.