An interesting privacy lawsuit has been filed, in what seems to be perfect timing for our section — between Kate Andresen’s CLE at our April meeting, “Is Privacy a Realistic Goal in the Digital Age of the Internet and Social Networking Sites?” and Michael Fleming’s CLE for our upcoming Annual Meeting, “Privacy Regulation by Proxy: How Customers Can Ensnare Their Vendors in Data Security Laws.”

A Dallas woman has sued Blockbuster over its participation in Facebook’s Beacon marketing program.  According to the complaint, the woman rented videos from Blockbuster, who passed along her rental info to Facebook, who then distributed the rental info on the Internet through its Beacon system. The plaintiff alleges that this was a violation of the Video Privacy Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2710 (summary).

This is a fascinating glimpse into the types of privacy issues that may arise when companies jump into the “next big thing” — here, social networking — without fully considering potential adverse effects. This case will be closely watched by other players in this area (e.g., MySpace), as well as their partner companies.