NELF Wiretap Amicus Advocacy in Contrarian Boston

Sleeper court case with huge consequences: Revere woman claims top local hospitals are violating a decades-old state wiretap law

Beth Israel Deaconess and New England Baptist are battling a class action lawsuit featuring a Revere woman that contends the hospitals violated a 1968 Massachusetts wiretapping law.

How? By “secretly” installing on their websites ad technology software provided by Google and Facebook for website optimization and marketing purposes, according to state court documents reviewed by Contrarian Boston.

But the ad tracking technology was hardly secret, contend lawyers for the hospitals.

Visitors to the websites of Beth Israel Deaconess and New England Baptist were notified through one of those ubiquitous “cookies” popups that the hospitals were using cookies and other tools to analyze their web traffic.

After an unfavorable lower court decision, the hospitals have taken their case to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

Further, the New England Legal Foundation has filed an amicus brief on behalf of the hospitals in the case, one of several class action lawsuits seeking damages based on the more than half-century old state wiretapping law.

NELF contends the class action lawsuit and others like it pose a “massive liability risk,” not just for the hospitals in question, but for all companies and organizations that use the internet, which, basically, is everyone now.

The law foundation is also calling upon the Legislature to revamp the state’s current – and arguably outdated – wiretap law as well.

Dan Winslow, president of the New England Legal Foundation

“It should not be left to the Trial Court to teach an old law new tricks; that is more appropriately the role of the Legislature,” said NELF President Dan Winslow, in a statement.

(Reprinted with permission.)


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