A number of Facebook users in Quebec tried to begin a class action against FB for alleged infringements on their privacy. A Quebec court has now refused certification as a class action and dismissed the case: St Arnaud c. Facebook Inc. 2011 QCCS 1506.
One ground for dismissal was that FB users sign an agreement that all disputes must be adjudicated in Santa Clara County, California.
A more interesting element of the decision was that the ‘contract’ with FB was not a consumer contract within the meaning of Quebec law, since there was no payment and no obligation on the users, who could quit at any time without financial consequence.
A brief writeup of the case (en français) is here.
Would a court in common-law Canada have any difficulty arriving at the same result? Quebec’s consumer protection laws, and laws protecting the jurisdiction of Quebec courts to hear cases involving local consumers, are as strong as or stronger than any others in the country. If it won’t fly in Quebec, it seems not likely to have wings elsewhere in the country. Do you agree?
Complaints to privacy commissioners have made more mileage, but they don’t allow the complainants to dip their buckets into FB’s deep and wide revenue stream the way a successful class action might …