If it's not one thing, it's certainly another-- especially in Facebook's case. The social network giant just can't seem to win on the privacy front, having landed yet another patent lawsuit. This time the complaint is against -- get this -- Facebook having privacy controls in place.
The patent-in-suit comes from Walker Digital, a self-proclaimed “invention company” founded by Jay S. Walker of Priceline.com. Titled “Method and system for establishing and maintaining user-controlled anonymous communications”, it states:
A system for establishing anonymous communications includes a plurality of party terminals, a plurality of requester terminals, and a central controller. The system receives and stores party data about respective parties.
Upon receiving criteria for parties of interest from a requestor terminal and authorization from respective parties, the central controller releases to the requester party associated with the parties. The system also establishes communications channels between parties and the requester, while maintaining their anonymity.
That mouthful is essentially saying that users can manage and control the release of information about their identities. The patent also describes how personal information can be disclosed through an authorization request.
According to the complaint, because Facebook enables people to have partial control over their privacy by letting them decide which information to share and whom to share it with, Walker Digital believes the the social network is infringing one of its so-called inventions.
"Provided I’ve understood the complaint correctly and the whole thing isn’t an early April Fools joke, this whole suit is just plain laughable," wrote Robin Wauters of TechCrunch.
Techdirt's Mike Masnick seems to be in a similar boat, but made an interesting point: "I doubt this lawsuit will get anywhere, but if it actually does gain some traction, perhaps people will finally start to realize what a slippery slope publicity rights create."
If you're in the mood for some legal entertainment, read through the suit yourself and let us know what you think: