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Westlake Legal Group > Suits and Litigation (Civil)

New Mexico Sues Google Over Children’s Privacy Violations

Westlake Legal Group 20google-facebookJumbo New Mexico Sues Google Over Children’s Privacy Violations Suits and Litigation (Civil) Privacy Google Inc Education (K-12) Consumer Protection Computers and the Internet Chrome (Operating System) Children's Online Privacy Protection Act Balderas, Hector H Jr

New Mexico’s attorney general sued Google on Thursday, saying the tech giant used its educational products to spy on the state’s children and families.

Google collected a trove of students’ personal information, including data on their physical locations, websites they visited, YouTube videos they watched and their voice recordings, Hector Balderas, New Mexico’s attorney general, said in a federal lawsuit.

“The consequences of Google’s tracking cannot be overstated: Children are being monitored by one of the largest data mining companies in the world, at school, at home, on mobile devices, without their knowledge and without the permission of their parents,” the lawsuit said.

Over the last eight years, Google has emerged as the predominant tech brand in American public schools, outpacing rivals like Apple and Microsoft by offering a suite of inexpensive, easy-to-use tools.

Today, more than half of the nation’s public schools — and 90 million students and teachers globally — use free Google Education apps like Gmail and Google Docs. More than 25 million students and teachers also use Chromebooks, laptops that run on the company’s Chrome operating system, the lawsuit said.

In September, Google agreed to pay a $170 million fine to settle federal and New York State charges that it illegally harvested the personal data of children on YouTube.

The new lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico, claimed that Google violated the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The law requires companies to obtain a parent’s consent before collecting the name, contact information and other personal details from a child under 13.

The lawsuit also said Google deceived schools, parents, teachers and students by telling them that were no privacy concerns with its education products when, in fact, the company had amassed a trove of potentially sensitive details on students’ online activities and locations.

Jose Castaneda, a Google spokesman, said the lawsuit’s claims were “factually wrong.”

“G Suite for Education allows schools to control account access and requires that schools obtain parental consent when necessary,” he said in a statement. “We do not use personal information from users in primary and secondary schools to target ads.”

For years, parents and privacy groups have complained that Google was using its education products to track millions of schoolchildren without adequately detailing its data-mining practices or obtaining explicit parental consent for the tracking. One issue of contention is that the company applies different privacy policies to different products.

Google has said its “core” products for schools, including Gmail and Drive, comply with privacy regulations requiring companies to use student data only for school purposes. The company said those core education products do not collect student data for advertising purposes or show targeted ads.

Google has maintained that other company services, like YouTube, which many schools also use, fall under a consumer privacy policy allowing it to collect user data for its own business purposes, such as product development.

Although the company provides school districts with an online dashboard to control student access to YouTube and dozens of other Google apps, some public school officials have said it can be difficult to parse the tech giant’s differing data-mining practices.

Mr. Balderas said Google had used its education products as a means to deceptively track schoolchildren for nonschool purposes.

When students log into their Chromebooks, Google turns on a feature that syncs its Chrome browser with other devices used by a student on that account, the lawsuit said. It effectively blends a student’s school and personal web activities into a single profile that Google can view, according to the lawsuit.

A feature that would prevent Google from full access to that data is also turned off by default, the suit said.

Students “begin engaging with Google technology through teachers and in school settings for homework, communication and other educational purposes,” Mr. Balderas said in a phone interview. Then the same schoolchildren, he said, go on to use Google services from their phones or at home, “allowing Google to track them for noneducational purposes — and definitely without the consent of their parents.”

Brian McMath, a senior litigator in the state attorney general’s Consumer and Environmental Protection division, said his office estimated that two-thirds of New Mexico’s school districts use some type of Google Education product.

This is not the first time that New Mexico has tangled with Google in the courts. Mr. Balderas filed a separate lawsuit in 2018 saying that a popular children’s app maker, along with advertising networks like Google and Twitter, had violated the federal children’s privacy law. In 2019, Google asked a federal judge to dismiss the suit. Mr. Balderas is also one of the state attorneys general who have publicly signed on to an antitrust investigation into Google.

To ease concerns about Google’s education data mining, the company agreed in 2015 to sign a voluntary industry pledge on student privacy. Under that pledge, Google promised not to collect, maintain, use or share student personal information beyond that needed for educational purposes.

Google also agreed not to use student information collected from its education services for behavioral ad targeting and not to retain students’ personal information beyond the time that the children were in school unless they received parental consent.

The lawsuit argued that Google had broken those promises.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Judge Is Said to Rule for T-Mobile Merger With Sprint

Westlake Legal Group merlin_156303888_b0e3cda7-81dc-45cb-8b24-1455858196d3-facebookJumbo Judge Is Said to Rule for T-Mobile Merger With Sprint Wireless Communications Telephones and Telecommunications T-Mobile US Inc. Suits and Litigation (Civil) Sprint Nextel Corporation SOFTBANK Corporation Mergers, Acquisitions and Divestitures Marrero, Victor Legere, John J Decisions and Verdicts

The judge in a contentious lawsuit that tried to stop the long-in-the-works merger between T-Mobile and Sprint is planning to rule in favor of the deal, according to three people briefed on the matter.

The verdict, expected Tuesday, will come at the end of an unusual suit filed in June by attorneys general from 13 states and the District of Columbia. The challenge came after federal regulators gave their blessing to the deal, which would combine the nation’s third- and fourth-largest wireless carriers and create a new telecommunications giant to take on the two largest, AT&T and Verizon. The states argued that the combination of T-Mobile and Sprint would reduce competition in the telecommunications industry, lead to higher cellphone bills and place a financial burden on lower-income customers.

Judge Victor Marrero of United States District Court in Manhattan presided over the case. Final arguments took place last month.

None of the parties have read the ruling yet, the three people said, leaving open the possibility that the decision includes conditions or restrictions. Both companies are planning to make announcements on Tuesday, the people said. Shares in Sprint shot up more than 60 percent and T-Mobile stock rose about 10 percent in aftermarket trading.

The lawsuit was the final roadblock to the merger, which made steady progress through the approval process since it was announced in April 2018. If the judge’s ruling goes in favor of the two companies, the deal will create a new telecommunications giant, called T-Mobile, that will have more than 100 million customers.

T-Mobile and Sprint have long said the merger was crucial to their futures in an industry challenged by pricing wars that have undercut profits and stalled growth. By combining with Sprint, T-Mobile has said it would be able to accelerate its development of 5G, the next generation of cellular networks.

The deal is also important to Sprint, which has bled cash and subscribers in recent years. SoftBank, the Japanese conglomerate the controls Sprint, has been looking to raise cash for its newest tech investing fund.

The new company will be led by Mike Sievert, a T-Mobile executive who will take over for John Legere, the face of the company whose contract is up in April.

Mr. Legere, the flamboyant, social-media-savvy chief executive of T-Mobile since 2012, helped drive the merger, which won the approval of the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission last year. To get the nod from the government, T-Mobile and Sprint agreed to sell off significant portions of their businesses to the pay-television operator Dish Network as part of a plan to create a potential new major wireless company.

Marcelo Claure, the executive chairman of Sprint, became a close ally of Mr. Legere’s throughout the campaign to secure approval for the deal. Mr. Legere made numerous visits to both the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department. Mr. Claure hosted a fund-raiser for Representative Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican who was eventually elected to the Senate in November 2018.

Several lawmakers expressed misgivings over Mr. Legere’s Washington visits, noting the dozens of times that he and other T-Mobile executives stayed at the Trump International Hotel there. The companies have denied doing anything inappropriate to curry favor with federal officials.

The deal also represents a victory for Masayoshi Son, the billionaire entrepreneur and outspoken leader of SoftBank, which has recently come under pressure from the activist investor Elliott Management. SoftBank’s outsize investments in tech start-ups, including WeWork, have failed to deliver for investors, and Mr. Son has struggled to raise more cash for a new investment fund. He has been trying to unload Sprint for years.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Judge Is Said to Rule for T-Mobile Merger With Sprint

Westlake Legal Group merlin_156303888_b0e3cda7-81dc-45cb-8b24-1455858196d3-facebookJumbo Judge Is Said to Rule for T-Mobile Merger With Sprint Wireless Communications Telephones and Telecommunications T-Mobile US Inc. Suits and Litigation (Civil) Sprint Nextel Corporation SOFTBANK Corporation Mergers, Acquisitions and Divestitures Marrero, Victor Legere, John J Decisions and Verdicts

The judge in a contentious lawsuit that tried to stop the long-in-the-works merger between T-Mobile and Sprint is planning to rule in favor of the deal, according to three people briefed on the matter.

The verdict, expected Tuesday, will come at the end of an unusual suit filed in June by attorneys general from 13 states and the District of Columbia. The challenge came after federal regulators gave their blessing to the deal, which would combine the nation’s third- and fourth-largest wireless carriers and create a new telecommunications giant to take on the two largest, AT&T and Verizon. The states argued that the combination of T-Mobile and Sprint would reduce competition in the telecommunications industry, lead to higher cellphone bills and place a financial burden on lower-income customers.

Judge Victor Marrero of United States District Court in Manhattan presided over the case. Final arguments took place last month.

None of the parties have read the ruling yet, the three people said, leaving open the possibility that the decision includes conditions or restrictions. Both companies are planning to make announcements on Tuesday, the people said. Shares in Sprint shot up more than 60 percent and T-Mobile stock rose about 10 percent in aftermarket trading.

The lawsuit was the final roadblock to the merger, which made steady progress through the approval process since it was announced in April 2018. If the judge’s ruling goes in favor of the two companies, the deal will create a new telecommunications giant, called T-Mobile, that will have more than 100 million customers.

T-Mobile and Sprint have long said the merger was crucial to their futures in an industry challenged by pricing wars that have undercut profits and stalled growth. By combining with Sprint, T-Mobile has said it would be able to accelerate its development of 5G, the next generation of cellular networks.

The deal is also important to Sprint, which has bled cash and subscribers in recent years. SoftBank, the Japanese conglomerate the controls Sprint, has been looking to raise cash for its newest tech investing fund.

The new company will be led by Mike Sievert, a T-Mobile executive who will take over for John Legere, the face of the company whose contract is up in April.

Mr. Legere, the flamboyant, social-media-savvy chief executive of T-Mobile since 2012, helped drive the merger, which won the approval of the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission last year. To get the nod from the government, T-Mobile and Sprint agreed to sell off significant portions of their businesses to the pay-television operator Dish Network as part of a plan to create a potential new major wireless company.

Marcelo Claure, the executive chairman of Sprint, became a close ally of Mr. Legere’s throughout the campaign to secure approval for the deal. Mr. Legere made numerous visits to both the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department. Mr. Claure hosted a fund-raiser for Representative Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican who was eventually elected to the Senate in November 2018.

Several lawmakers expressed misgivings over Mr. Legere’s Washington visits, noting the dozens of times that he and other T-Mobile executives stayed at the Trump International Hotel there. The companies have denied doing anything inappropriate to curry favor with federal officials.

The deal also represents a victory for Masayoshi Son, the billionaire entrepreneur and outspoken leader of SoftBank, which has recently come under pressure from the activist investor Elliott Management. SoftBank’s outsize investments in tech start-ups, including WeWork, have failed to deliver for investors, and Mr. Son has struggled to raise more cash for a new investment fund. He has been trying to unload Sprint for years.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Jeff Bezos Is Sued by His Girlfriend’s Brother

Westlake Legal Group 02bezos-facebookJumbo Jeff Bezos Is Sued by His Girlfriend’s Brother Washington Post Suits and Litigation (Civil) Sanchez, Michael (1965- ) Sanchez, Lauren (1969- ) Privacy national enquirer de Becker, Gavin Bezos, Jeffrey P Amazon.com Inc

The brother of Jeff Bezos’s girlfriend has filed a lawsuit accusing Mr. Bezos and his security consultant of defaming him in connection with a 2019 National Enquirer story revealing Mr. Bezos’s extramarital affair.

Michael Sanchez, a Hollywood talent manager and the brother of Lauren Sanchez, said in his lawsuit, which was filed on Friday in state court in Los Angeles, that Mr. Bezos and Gavin de Becker, the consultant, had falsely told journalists that he had leaked “graphic, nude photographs” of Mr. Bezos to The Enquirer.

Among its other claims, Mr. Sanchez’s suit says Ms. Sanchez and Mr. Bezos, the founder of Amazon and the world’s richest man, kept their affair secret on the advice of a psychic. Mr. Sanchez also said his home was searched by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Enquirer story, published online on Jan. 9, 2019, contained reproductions of text messages from Mr. Bezos to Ms. Sanchez. The tabloid later claimed to have photos of Mr. Bezos in various states of undress, but did not publish them.

The lawsuit blames Mr. Bezos and Mr. de Becker for spreading what it calls “the false narrative” that Mr. Sanchez had betrayed his sister by peddling the story to The Enquirer.

A lawyer for Mr. Bezos, William Isaacson, said his client “has chosen to address this lawsuit in court and we will do that soon.” Mr. de Becker declined to comment.

In a statement provided by her lawyer, Terry Bird, Lauren Sanchez said, “Michael is my older brother. He secretly provided my most personal information to The National Enquirer — a deep and unforgivable betrayal. My family is hurting over this new baseless and untrue lawsuit, and we truly hope my brother finds peace.”

A lawyer for Mr. Sanchez, Enoch Liang, said in a statement that the lawsuit “speaks for itself.”

Mr. Sanchez’s assertions contain apparent inconsistencies. Mr. Bezos and Mr. de Becker, who investigated how The Enquirer got its exposé, have not publicly accused Mr. Sanchez of leaking photographs to the tabloid.

Instead, Mr. Bezos hinted in a blog post last February that materials relevant to the story made their way to The Enquirer through a hacking of his phone by Saudi Arabia, which has denied any role in the exposé.

Mr. Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, suggested that the Saudis had been angry over the newspaper’s coverage of the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident and columnist for The Post who was murdered by Saudi assassins weeks after writing critically of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the paper. Mr. Bezos also cited the wooing of Prince Mohammed by David J. Pecker, the chief executive of American Media, the publisher of The Enquirer, who was seeking Saudi investment in the company.

Last month, Mr. Bezos’ security team circulated the results of a forensic analysis he had commissioned. It concluded with “medium to high confidence” that the Amazon founder’s iPhone X had been hacked after he received a video from a WhatsApp message sent to him from an account reportedly belonging to the Saudi crown prince, with whom the billionaire had swapped contacts at a Los Angeles dinner. The analysis did not reveal a Saudi connection to the materials obtained by The Enquirer.

American Media said in a statement last month that Mr. Sanchez was the “single source” for the exposé.

According to an October 2018 contract reviewed by The New York Times, Mr. Sanchez granted American Media the right to publish and license text messages and photographs “documenting an affair between Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez” in exchange for $200,000. In his lawsuit, Mr. Sanchez did not address whether he had provided text messages or photographs, or whether he was compensated by the tabloid.

When federal agents and prosecutors examined allegations of wrongdoing in connection with The Enquirer’s handling of the story, American Media gave them evidence showing that Mr. Sanchez had obtained text messages and photos of Mr. Bezos from his sister, four people with knowledge of the matter told The Times.

In his blog post last year, Mr. Bezos quoted emails sent to Mr. de Becker’s lawyer by an American Media lawyer and a company executive, who wrote that “the photos obtained during our news gathering” included a nude “below-the-belt selfie.” American Media said in the emails that it would refrain from publishing the photographs if Mr. Bezos said publicly that he believed the exposé was not politically motivated. (The Enquirer had been a booster of President Trump, who was at odds with Mr. Bezos.)

After Mr. Bezos accused American Media of trying to extort him with the unpublished materials, which the company denied, federal prosecutors began looking into the matter.

The company had months earlier avoided prosecution for having paid a former Playboy model, in coordination with Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, for the exclusive rights to her story of an affair with Mr. Trump, a story that was suppressed by the tabloid. The company agreed not to break the law again or face consequences. Prosecutors have not taken any action related to the Bezos article.

Mr. Sanchez in his lawsuit acknowledged engaging with The Enquirer, but said he did so to protect his sister and Mr. Bezos.

According to the suit, the two started an affair in 2017, while Mr. Bezos was still married to MacKenzie Bezos, a novelist who was Amazon’s first accountant. After Mr. Bezos and Ms. Sanchez “were guided in their decision to keep their relationship hidden by a psychic in New Mexico,” Mr. Sanchez’s lawyers wrote, Mr. Sanchez “was instrumental in covering up first, the existence, and second, the timing of the affair.”

Eventually, Mr. Sanchez’s lawsuit said, he tried to “get ahead of the story,” entering into a nondisclosure agreement with American Media. By his account, he “agreed to corroborate the existence of the relationship under conditions that would help Mr. Sanchez manage the timing of the story and the way in which the affair was portrayed.”

Karen Weise and William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Jeff Bezos Is Sued by His Girlfriend’s Brother

Westlake Legal Group 02bezos-facebookJumbo Jeff Bezos Is Sued by His Girlfriend’s Brother Washington Post Suits and Litigation (Civil) Sanchez, Michael (1965- ) Sanchez, Lauren (1969- ) Privacy national enquirer de Becker, Gavin Bezos, Jeffrey P Amazon.com Inc

The brother of Jeff Bezos’s girlfriend has filed a lawsuit accusing Mr. Bezos and his security consultant of defaming him in connection with a 2019 National Enquirer story revealing Mr. Bezos’s extramarital affair.

Michael Sanchez, a Hollywood talent manager and the brother of Lauren Sanchez, said in his lawsuit, which was filed on Friday in state court in Los Angeles, that Mr. Bezos and Gavin de Becker, the consultant, had falsely told journalists that he had leaked “graphic, nude photographs” of Mr. Bezos to The Enquirer.

Among its other claims, Mr. Sanchez’s suit says Ms. Sanchez and Mr. Bezos, the founder of Amazon and the world’s richest man, kept their affair secret on the advice of a psychic. Mr. Sanchez also said his home was searched by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Enquirer story, published online on Jan. 9, 2019, contained reproductions of text messages from Mr. Bezos to Ms. Sanchez. The tabloid later claimed to have photos of Mr. Bezos in various states of undress, but did not publish them.

The lawsuit blames Mr. Bezos and Mr. de Becker for spreading what it calls “the false narrative” that Mr. Sanchez had betrayed his sister by peddling the story to The Enquirer.

A lawyer for Mr. Bezos, William Isaacson, said his client “has chosen to address this lawsuit in court and we will do that soon.” Mr. de Becker declined to comment.

In a statement provided by her lawyer, Terry Bird, Lauren Sanchez said, “Michael is my older brother. He secretly provided my most personal information to The National Enquirer — a deep and unforgivable betrayal. My family is hurting over this new baseless and untrue lawsuit, and we truly hope my brother finds peace.”

A lawyer for Mr. Sanchez, Enoch Liang, said in a statement that the lawsuit “speaks for itself.”

Mr. Sanchez’s assertions contain apparent inconsistencies. Mr. Bezos and Mr. de Becker, who investigated how The Enquirer got its exposé, have not publicly accused Mr. Sanchez of leaking photographs to the tabloid.

Instead, Mr. Bezos hinted in a blog post last February that materials relevant to the story made their way to The Enquirer through a hacking of his phone by Saudi Arabia, which has denied any role in the exposé.

Mr. Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, suggested that the Saudis had been angry over the newspaper’s coverage of the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident and columnist for The Post who was murdered by Saudi assassins weeks after writing critically of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the paper. Mr. Bezos also cited the wooing of Prince Mohammed by David J. Pecker, the chief executive of American Media, the publisher of The Enquirer, who was seeking Saudi investment in the company.

Last month, Mr. Bezos’ security team circulated the results of a forensic analysis he had commissioned. It concluded with “medium to high confidence” that the Amazon founder’s iPhone X had been hacked after he received a video from a WhatsApp message sent to him from an account reportedly belonging to the Saudi crown prince, with whom the billionaire had swapped contacts at a Los Angeles dinner. The analysis did not reveal a Saudi connection to the materials obtained by The Enquirer.

American Media said in a statement last month that Mr. Sanchez was the “single source” for the exposé.

According to an October 2018 contract reviewed by The New York Times, Mr. Sanchez granted American Media the right to publish and license text messages and photographs “documenting an affair between Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez” in exchange for $200,000. In his lawsuit, Mr. Sanchez did not address whether he had provided text messages or photographs, or whether he was compensated by the tabloid.

When federal agents and prosecutors examined allegations of wrongdoing in connection with The Enquirer’s handling of the story, American Media gave them evidence showing that Mr. Sanchez had obtained text messages and photos of Mr. Bezos from his sister, four people with knowledge of the matter told The Times.

In his blog post last year, Mr. Bezos quoted emails sent to Mr. de Becker’s lawyer by an American Media lawyer and a company executive, who wrote that “the photos obtained during our news gathering” included a nude “below-the-belt selfie.” American Media said in the emails that it would refrain from publishing the photographs if Mr. Bezos said publicly that he believed the exposé was not politically motivated. (The Enquirer had been a booster of President Trump, who was at odds with Mr. Bezos.)

After Mr. Bezos accused American Media of trying to extort him with the unpublished materials, which the company denied, federal prosecutors began looking into the matter.

The company had months earlier avoided prosecution for having paid a former Playboy model, in coordination with Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, for the exclusive rights to her story of an affair with Mr. Trump, a story that was suppressed by the tabloid. The company agreed not to break the law again or face consequences. Prosecutors have not taken any action related to the Bezos article.

Mr. Sanchez in his lawsuit acknowledged engaging with The Enquirer, but said he did so to protect his sister and Mr. Bezos.

According to the suit, the two started an affair in 2017, while Mr. Bezos was still married to MacKenzie Bezos, a novelist who was Amazon’s first accountant. After Mr. Bezos and Ms. Sanchez “were guided in their decision to keep their relationship hidden by a psychic in New Mexico,” Mr. Sanchez’s lawyers wrote, Mr. Sanchez “was instrumental in covering up first, the existence, and second, the timing of the affair.”

Eventually, Mr. Sanchez’s lawsuit said, he tried to “get ahead of the story,” entering into a nondisclosure agreement with American Media. By his account, he “agreed to corroborate the existence of the relationship under conditions that would help Mr. Sanchez manage the timing of the story and the way in which the affair was portrayed.”

Karen Weise and William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Facebook to Pay $550 Million to Settle Facial Recognition Suit

Westlake Legal Group 29facebook-facebookJumbo Facebook to Pay $550 Million to Settle Facial Recognition Suit Suits and Litigation (Civil) Social Media Privacy facial recognition software Facebook Inc Face Decisions and Verdicts Corporations Corporate Social Responsibility Computers and the Internet Company Reports

Facebook said on Wednesday that it had agreed to pay $550 million to settle a class-action lawsuit over its use of facial recognition technology in Illinois, giving privacy groups a major victory that again raised questions about the social network’s data-mining practices.

The case stemmed from Facebook’s photo-labeling service, Tag Suggestions, which uses face-matching software to suggest the names of people in users’ photos. The suit said the Silicon Valley company violated an Illinois biometric privacy law by harvesting facial data for Tag Suggestions from the photos of millions of users in the state without their permission and without telling them how long the data would be kept. Facebook has said the allegations have no merit.

Under the agreement, Facebook will pay $550 million to eligible Illinois users and for the plaintiffs’ legal fees. The sum dwarfs the $380.5 million that the Equifax credit reporting agency agreed this month to pay to settle a class-action case over a 2017 consumer data breach.

Facebook disclosed the settlement as part of its quarterly financial results, in which it took a charge on the case. The sum amounted to a rounding error for Facebook, which reported that revenue rose 25 percent to $21 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with a year earlier, while profit increased 7 percent to $7.3 billion.

David Wehner, Facebook’s chief financial officer, noted in an earnings call with investors that the settlement added to the social network’s rising general and administrative costs, which increased 87 percent from a year ago.

“We decided to pursue a settlement as it was in the best interest of our community and our shareholders to move past this matter,” a Facebook spokesman said in a statement.

Jay Edelson, a lawyer whose firm represented Facebook users in the facial recognition suit, said the settlement underscored the importance of strong privacy legislation.

“From people who are passionate about gun rights to those who care about women’s reproductive issues, the right to participate in society anonymously is something that we cannot afford to lose,” Mr. Edelson said.

The privacy settlement coincides with heightened public concern over the spread of powerful surveillance technology like facial recognition. Companies like Amazon and Clearview AI are marketing face-matching software to law enforcement agencies to help them identify unknown suspects. The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups have warned that the spread of such services could end people’s ability to remain anonymous in public.

The case also illustrates the protections that strong state laws may offer consumers. Of the three states that have stand-alone biometric privacy laws, Illinois has the most comprehensive one. It requires companies to obtain written permission before collecting a person’s fingerprints, facial scans or other identifying biological characteristics. The law also gives residents the right to sue companies for up to $5,000 per violation, which could add up to billions of dollars in payouts for tech giants that lose such class-action suits.

“The Illinois law has real teeth. It pretty much stopped Facebook in its tracks,” said Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a nonprofit group that filed a brief in the Facebook case. “Tech firms and other companies that collect biometric data must be very nervous right now.”

Since the Illinois law was enacted in 2008, it has vexed companies that market voice assistants, doorbell cameras, photo labeling and other technology that may collect biometric details from people without their knowledge or consent.

Many of the companies have argued that people should not be able to sue over violations of a consumer privacy law if they cannot prove they suffered concrete harms like financial losses. Facebook made similar claims in the facial recognition lawsuit, including in a petition in December asking the United States Supreme Court to review the case. The Supreme Court last week denied Facebook’s appeal.

But last January, in a case against an amusement park that had collected and stored a child’s fingerprints, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that violating a person’s biometric privacy could constitute a harm in and of itself, enabling consumers to pursue privacy claims. An appeals court judge later issued a similar ruling in the Facebook case, denying the company’s bid to have the lawsuit dismissed.

“Courts have recognized that the very loss of control over this highly sensitive, highly personal information itself causes harm to people,” said Nathan Wessler, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, which also filed a brief in the Facebook case.

Facebook has been dogged by complaints over its use of facial recognition since 2010, when it rolled out Tag Suggestions as the default option for users. People could turn it off, but privacy experts said the company had neither obtained users’ opt-in consent for the technology nor explicitly informed them that it could benefit by, for instance, using scans of their photos to improve its face-matching technology.

In 2012, Facebook deactivated the technology in Europe after regulators there raised questions about its consent system. Last year, as part of a $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over privacy violations, Facebook agreed to provide “clear and conspicuous notice” about its face-matching software and obtain additional permission from people before using it for new purposes they had not agreed to.

In 2018, Facebook reintroduced facial recognition as an option for users in Europe. Last year, Facebook updated its facial recognition notices and settings for certain users, providing more details on how it uses the technology.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Could Trump Muzzle John Bolton? The Limits of Executive Privilege, Explained

Westlake Legal Group merlin_136614993_a42ae662-fc3d-47b8-bf4a-e37252b17dc7-facebookJumbo Could Trump Muzzle John Bolton? The Limits of Executive Privilege, Explained United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Suits and Litigation (Civil) subpoenas Senate Mulvaney, Mick Law and Legislation Justice Department House of Representatives Freedom of Speech and Expression Executive Privilege, Doctrine of Constitution (US) Bolton, John R

WASHINGTON — Republican senators allied with President Trump are increasingly arguing that the Senate should not call witnesses or subpoena documents for his impeachment trial because Mr. Trump has threatened to invoke executive privilege, and a legal fight would take too long to resolve.

But it is far from clear that Mr. Trump has the power to gag or delay a witness who is willing to comply with a subpoena and tell the Senate what he knows about the president’s interactions with Ukraine anyway — as Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser John R. Bolton has said he would do.

Here is an explanation of executive privilege legal issues.

It is a power that presidents can sometimes use to keep information secret.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution implicitly gives presidents the authority to keep internal communications, especially those involving their close White House aides, secret under certain circumstances. The idea is that if officials fear that Congress might someday gain access to their private communications, it would chill the candor of the advice presidents receive and inhibit their ability to carry out their constitutionally assigned duties.

Not by itself.

The privilege has traditionally been wielded as a shield, not a sword. It has no built-in enforcement mechanism to prevent a former official from complying with a subpoena in defiance of a president’s orders, or to punish one afterward for having done so.

Mr. Bolton, one of the four current and former officials whom Democrats want to call as a witness, has said that he will show up to testify if the Senate subpoenas him for the impeachment trial, even though the White House has told him not to disclose what he knows about Mr. Trump’s private statements and actions toward Ukraine.

A valid assertion of the privilege would protect a current or former official who chooses not to comply with a subpoena.

Three other officials Democrats want to call as witnesses — Mr. Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney; a top national-security aide to Mr. Mulvaney, Robert Blair; and Michael Duffey, an official in the White House budget office who handled the military aid to Ukraine — are expected to resist appearing if subpoenaed.

Normally it is a crime to defy a subpoena, but the Justice Department will decline to prosecute a recalcitrant official if the president invokes the privilege. Congress can also sue that official seeking a court order, but the department, defending that official, will cite the privilege to argue that case should be dismissed — and as grounds to appeal any ruling that the subpoena is nevertheless valid, keeping the case going.

The Trump administration has broadly pursued a strategy of fighting House oversight and impeachment subpoenas, resulting in a string of lower-court losses that have nevertheless succeeded in running down the clock. Senate Republicans have argued that any effort to enforce impeachment subpoenas could result in a long and drawn-out judicial battle as a reason for the moderate members of their caucus not to break ranks and join Democrats in voting to subpoena witnesses and documents.

Representative Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who is leading the House impeachment managers, has proposed that the Supreme Court Chief Justice, John G. Roberts Jr., who is presiding over the trial, could swiftly rule on the validity of any executive privilege claim. The trial has “a perfectly good judge sitting behind me,” Mr. Schiff said.

But Chief Justice Roberts does not embody and is not functioning as the Supreme Court. Several legal experts said that even if he were to rule that any invocation of the privilege is not valid, a subpoena recipient could ignore him and continue to defer to the president.

Then the Senate would likely still have to go through the normal court process to seek a judicial order to hear from the witness.

The administration could try, but it would face serious hurdles.

In theory, the Justice Department could file a lawsuit and ask a judge to issue a restraining order barring Mr. Bolton from testifying on the grounds that he might divulge information that is subject to executive privilege. But the government has never tried to do that.

Even if a judge agreed that the information the Senate would be seeking is covered by a valid claim of executive privilege, it is not clear that any judge or higher court would issue a restraining order. Under a constitutional doctrine called prior restraint, the First Amendment severely limits the ability of the government to gag speech before its expression.

“A restraining order is unlikely because it would be unprecedented, a threat to First Amendment values, and — in this context — a threat to fundamental checks and balances,” said Peter Shane, an Ohio State University professor and the co-author of a casebook on separation-of-powers law.

It’s fuzzy. The scope and limits of the president’s power to keep internal executive branch information secret are ill-defined because in practice, administration officials and lawmakers have typically resolved executive privilege disputes through deals to accommodate investigators’ needs to avoid definitive judicial rulings.

In a 1974 Supreme Court case about whether President Richard M. Nixon had to turn over tapes of his Oval Office conversations to the Watergate prosecutor, the court ruled that executive privilege can be overcome if the information is needed for a criminal case. Nixon resigned 16 days later.

The Supreme Court in the Nixon case noted several times that the information sought did not involve presidential discussions about diplomatic or military matters, so the Justice Department might argue that the Watergate precedent does not cover Mr. Trump’s internal communications about military aid to Ukraine.

Nevertheless, the courts would most likely use a balancing test, weighing the presidency’s need for private internal deliberations against Congress’s need for the specific information to investigate possible high-level wrongdoing, said Mark J. Rozell, a George Mason University professor who has written books about executive privilege.

Noting the Nixon-era precedent, he said he doubted that a claim of executive privilege would be upheld in the context of impeachment because “the courts don’t give all that much deference to claims of presidential secrecy in cases of alleged wrongdoing.”

No.

In a related legal dispute, the Trump administration has argued that White House officials are “absolutely immune” from being compelled to respond to a subpoena when Congress is seeking information about their official duties.

If that were true, it would mean they did not even have to show up, separate and apart from whether they can lawfully decline to answer a particular question in deference to a president’s claim that the answer is covered by executive privilege.

Late last year, a Federal District Court judge rejected that theory in a case involving a congressional subpoena to Mr. Trump’s former White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II. But Mr. McGahn does not want to cooperate and has permitted the Justice Department to file an appeal on his behalf, and the litigation is continuing.

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Could Trump Muzzle John Bolton? The Limits of Executive Privilege, Explained

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WASHINGTON — Republican senators allied with President Trump are increasingly arguing that the Senate should not call witnesses or subpoena documents for his impeachment trial because Mr. Trump has threatened to invoke executive privilege, and a legal fight would take too long to resolve.

But it is far from clear that Mr. Trump has the power to gag or delay a witness who is willing to comply with a subpoena and tell the Senate what he knows about the president’s interactions with Ukraine anyway — as Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser John R. Bolton has said he would do.

Here is an explanation of executive privilege legal issues.

It is a power that presidents can sometimes use to keep information secret.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution implicitly gives presidents the authority to keep internal communications, especially those involving their close White House aides, secret under certain circumstances. The idea is that if officials fear that Congress might someday gain access to their private communications, it would chill the candor of the advice presidents receive and inhibit their ability to carry out their constitutionally assigned duties.

Not by itself.

The privilege has traditionally been wielded as a shield, not a sword. It has no built-in enforcement mechanism to prevent a former official from complying with a subpoena in defiance of a president’s orders, or to punish one afterward for having done so.

Mr. Bolton, one of the four current and former officials whom Democrats want to call as a witness, has said that he will show up to testify if the Senate subpoenas him for the impeachment trial, even though the White House has told him not to disclose what he knows about Mr. Trump’s private statements and actions toward Ukraine.

A valid assertion of the privilege would protect a current or former official who chooses not to comply with a subpoena.

Three other officials Democrats want to call as witnesses — Mr. Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney; a top national-security aide to Mr. Mulvaney, Robert Blair; and Michael Duffey, an official in the White House budget office who handled the military aid to Ukraine — are expected to resist appearing if subpoenaed.

Normally it is a crime to defy a subpoena, but the Justice Department will decline to prosecute a recalcitrant official if the president invokes the privilege. Congress can also sue that official seeking a court order, but the department, defending that official, will cite the privilege to argue that case should be dismissed — and as grounds to appeal any ruling that the subpoena is nevertheless valid, keeping the case going.

The Trump administration has broadly pursued a strategy of fighting House oversight and impeachment subpoenas, resulting in a string of lower-court losses that have nevertheless succeeded in running down the clock. Senate Republicans have argued that any effort to enforce impeachment subpoenas could result in a long and drawn-out judicial battle as a reason for the moderate members of their caucus not to break ranks and join Democrats in voting to subpoena witnesses and documents.

Representative Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who is leading the House impeachment managers, has proposed that the Supreme Court Chief Justice, John G. Roberts Jr., who is presiding over the trial, could swiftly rule on the validity of any executive privilege claim. The trial has “a perfectly good judge sitting behind me,” Mr. Schiff said.

But Chief Justice Roberts does not embody and is not functioning as the Supreme Court. Several legal experts said that even if he were to rule that any invocation of the privilege is not valid, a subpoena recipient could ignore him and continue to defer to the president.

Then the Senate would likely still have to go through the normal court process to seek a judicial order to hear from the witness.

The administration could try, but it would face serious hurdles.

In theory, the Justice Department could file a lawsuit and ask a judge to issue a restraining order barring Mr. Bolton from testifying on the grounds that he might divulge information that is subject to executive privilege. But the government has never tried to do that.

Even if a judge agreed that the information the Senate would be seeking is covered by a valid claim of executive privilege, it is not clear that any judge or higher court would issue a restraining order. Under a constitutional doctrine called prior restraint, the First Amendment severely limits the ability of the government to gag speech before its expression.

“A restraining order is unlikely because it would be unprecedented, a threat to First Amendment values, and — in this context — a threat to fundamental checks and balances,” said Peter Shane, an Ohio State University professor and the co-author of a casebook on separation-of-powers law.

It’s fuzzy. The scope and limits of the president’s power to keep internal executive branch information secret are ill-defined because in practice, administration officials and lawmakers have typically resolved executive privilege disputes through deals to accommodate investigators’ needs to avoid definitive judicial rulings.

In a 1974 Supreme Court case about whether President Richard M. Nixon had to turn over tapes of his Oval Office conversations to the Watergate prosecutor, the court ruled that executive privilege can be overcome if the information is needed for a criminal case. Nixon resigned 16 days later.

The Supreme Court in the Nixon case noted several times that the information sought did not involve presidential discussions about diplomatic or military matters, so the Justice Department might argue that the Watergate precedent does not cover Mr. Trump’s internal communications about military aid to Ukraine.

Nevertheless, the courts would most likely use a balancing test, weighing the presidency’s need for private internal deliberations against Congress’s need for the specific information to investigate possible high-level wrongdoing, said Mark J. Rozell, a George Mason University professor who has written books about executive privilege.

Noting the Nixon-era precedent, he said he doubted that a claim of executive privilege would be upheld in the context of impeachment because “the courts don’t give all that much deference to claims of presidential secrecy in cases of alleged wrongdoing.”

No.

In a related legal dispute, the Trump administration has argued that White House officials are “absolutely immune” from being compelled to respond to a subpoena when Congress is seeking information about their official duties.

If that were true, it would mean they did not even have to show up, separate and apart from whether they can lawfully decline to answer a particular question in deference to a president’s claim that the answer is covered by executive privilege.

Late last year, a Federal District Court judge rejected that theory in a case involving a congressional subpoena to Mr. Trump’s former White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II. But Mr. McGahn does not want to cooperate and has permitted the Justice Department to file an appeal on his behalf, and the litigation is continuing.

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In McGahn Case, an Epic Constitutional Showdown

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WASHINGTON — “Has there ever been,” the judge asked, “an instance of such broad-scale defiance of a congressional request for information in the history of the Republic?”

It was the first Friday of the new year, and an appeals court was considering whether President Trump could order his advisers to refuse to comply with congressional subpoenas. The case concerned Donald F. McGahn II, the former White House counsel, but the questions from the judge, Thomas B. Griffith, made plain that the court was struggling with something more general and fundamental.

Judge Griffith was appointed to the court by President George W. Bush and is an authority on the separation of powers, having served as legal counsel for the Senate, including during the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. He wanted to know if there was any precedent for a wholesale presidential order to stonewall Congress.

“Has that ever happened before?” Judge Griffith asked.

The administration’s lawyer, Hashim M. Mooppan, gave an answer that underscored the significance of the case. “Not to my knowledge,” he said.

It can be hard to keep track of the lawsuits seeking information from Mr. Trump, his associates, his accountants and his bankers. Three of them are already before the Supreme Court.

But the case heard this month by a three-judge panel of the appeals court, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, is easily the most important.

The Supreme Court cases concern requests for information from private firms. The McGahn case is a constitutional standoff between two branches of government and presents a question that, perhaps surprisingly, has never been definitively resolved by the Supreme Court: May Congress sue the executive branch, whether to enforce a subpoena or for anything else?

In 2015, the Supreme Court left open, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg put it, “the question whether Congress has standing to bring a suit against the president.” She noted that “a suit between Congress and the president would raise separation-of-powers concerns.”

In November, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, of the Federal District Court in Washington, ordered Mr. McGahn to testify about what House Democrats said was a pattern of presidential obstruction of justice. She said federal courts may resolve clashes between the other branches and rejected the administration’s argument that close advisers of the president have “absolute immunity” from congressional subpoenas.

The appeals court, acting in the shadow of Mr. Trump’s impeachment, has put the case on a fast track. After it rules, a Supreme Court appeal seems close to inevitable. The case may not be resolved in time to matter in the impeachment trial, but it may nonetheless yield a foundational ruling on the structure of the Constitution.

In its appeals court brief, the administration said the issues in the case were both momentous and novel. “For only the second time in our nation’s history,” the administration told the appeals court, “a court has ordered a close presidential adviser to appear and testify before Congress.” (The first decision, from a trial judge in 2008, concerned a subpoena to Harriet Miers, Mr. Bush’s former White House counsel. The two sides settled before the appeals court could rule.)

At the argument in the McGahn case, Mr. Mooppan, the administration’s lawyer, made two basic arguments, both sweeping. Mr. Trump and his close advisers, Mr. Mooppan said, have absolute immunity from congressional subpoenas, meaning they cannot be made to appear to be questioned about anything at all, whether or not executive privilege or some other protection might apply to particular inquiries.

But Mr. Mooppan said there was no need for the appeals court to decide that issue, as federal courts have no role in adjudicating disputes between the other branches. In 1997, he noted, the Supreme Court rejected a suit against executive branch officials from six individual lawmakers, saying they had not suffered the sort of direct injury that gave them standing to sue.

The D.C. Circuit, however, has said that “the mere fact that there is a conflict between the legislative and executive branches over a congressional subpoena does not preclude judicial resolution of the conflict.” It drew support from United States v. Nixon, the 1974 Supreme Court decision requiring President Richard M. Nixon to turn over tapes of conversations with aides, calling that “an analogous conflict between the executive and judicial branches.”

But the Nixon case arose in the context of a criminal trial, and the Supreme Court went out of its way to say that it was not “concerned here with the balance between the president’s generalized interest in confidentiality” and “congressional demands for information.”

Congress may have ways other than lawsuits to persuade or force the administration to comply, Judge Griffith said at the appeals court argument.

“Congress has plenty of remedies,” he said, including cutting off money or refusing to confirm nominees. “Appropriations power. Confirmation power. Impeachment power. There are lots of remedies that have been used for a long time. What’s wrong with those?”

Megan Barbero, a lawyer for the House, said those methods would not lead to getting the requested information in a timely fashion.

Should the appeals court decide that it has a role to play in the McGahn case, it will have to decide whether Mr. Trump’s close aides have “absolute immunity” from congressional subpoenas. The theory has been pressed by administrations of both parties.

An early articulation came in 1971 from William H. Rehnquist, then a Justice Department official and later the chief justice. He acknowledged that his views were “tentative and sketchy,” but he reasoned that it could not hurt the president to take a hard line.

“In a strictly tactical sense, the executive branch has a head start in any controversy with the legislative branch, since the legislative branch wants something the executive branch has,” Mr. Rehnquist wrote. “All the executive has to do is maintain the status quo and he prevails.”

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#MeToo Cases’ New Legal Battleground: Defamation Lawsuits

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Ashley Judd was one of the first women to attach her name to accusations of sexual misconduct against Harvey Weinstein, but like many of the claims that followed, her account of intimidating sexual advances was too old to bring Mr. Weinstein to court over.

Then a legal window opened to her. After reading about a director’s claim that Mr. Weinstein’s studio, Miramax, had described Ms. Judd as a “nightmare to work with,” she sued the producer for defamation in 2018.

Mr. Weinstein’s rape trial in Manhattan, which began with jury selection last week, is a spectacle not only because he is the avatar of the #MeToo era, but also because it is one of the few sexual assault cases to surface with allegations recent enough to result in criminal charges.

So, unable to pursue justice directly, women and men on both sides of #MeToo are embracing the centuries-old tool of defamation lawsuits, opening an alternative legal battleground for accusations of sexual misconduct.

While the facts of the cases vary, the plaintiffs are generally using defamation law not just for its usual purpose — to dissuade damaging speech about them — but also as a tool to enlist the courts to endorse their version of disputed events.

This year, key verdicts are expected in defamation cases involving President Trump, the Senate candidate Roy Moore and the actor Johnny Depp, and lawyers are watching the proceedings closely.

In some cases, women are basing their suits on recent statements in which the men they accused called them liars; or in Ms. Judd’s case, on a disparaging statement she said she was not aware of until the director, Peter Jackson, revealed it in a 2017 interview. Men like Mr. Depp are using defamation suits to fend off allegations from women, in his case, his ex-wife Amber Heard, who accused him of domestic abuse.

Courts have only begun to grapple with this #MeToo-inspired wave of defamation lawsuits, which are, in some cases, being brought because the statutes of limitations on sexual misconduct can be as short as one year, depending on the state and severity of the accusation. Those statutes are a bedrock legal concept designed to discourage people from being sued or imprisoned based on witness memories that may have eroded over the years.

The cases raise a swirl of issues, including the appropriate limits on freedom of speech; the power of social media, where an accusation can spread on platforms that vary in reliability and authority; and whether the statutes of limitations should be extended, as some states have already done.

Advocates on both sides are anxious. Lawyers for people accused of misconduct fear that a string of defamation victories for women will prevent men who believe they have been wrongly accused from freely defending themselves. At the same time, backers of the #MeToo movement fear that a spate of defamation cases against women will push victims back into the shadows.

“The next year is going to be very interesting when it comes to the law of defamation,” said Sigrid McCawley, a lawyer representing Virginia Giuffre, who said she was a victim of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking operation and accused Mr. Epstein’s ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell and the lawyer Alan Dershowitz of being part of it. After they issued statements saying she was lying, she sued them for defamation. Mr. Dershowitz has countersued Ms. Giuffre for defamation; Ms. Maxwell settled in 2017.

“We’re going to see a wave of opinions that will shape that landscape quite a bit,” Ms. McCawley said.

Several cases involve big names in politics and entertainment. Summer Zervos, a former “Apprentice” contestant, filed a defamation lawsuit against Mr. Trump for his comments during his presidential campaign that her accusations of unwanted kissing and groping were fabricated. The president has argued that he cannot be sued in state court while in office, an issue that is likely headed for New York’s highest court. Its decision will be closely watched by E. Jean Carroll, who filed a similar claim against Mr. Trump after he said that she had lied about his raping her to increase sales of her new book.

Leigh Corfman, who accused Mr. Moore of touching her sexually when she was 14, sued him for defamation after he called her story false, malicious and “politically motivated.” That trial is expected to start this year in Alabama. Mr. Moore lost his Senate race in 2017 after accusations surfaced from Ms. Corfman and other women.

And last year, at least eight women reached settlements with Bill Cosby’s insurance company to end their defamation lawsuits. They filed them after his representatives accused them of lying when they said Mr. Cosby had sexually assaulted them decades ago.

At the same time, defamation suits are a go-to strategy for accused men trying to preserve their reputations. Mr. Depp’s lawsuit is expected to go to trial this summer in Virginia unless the judge dismisses it. And a judge in Brooklyn is considering whether to allow or throw out a lawsuit filed by the writer Stephen Elliott against Moira Donegan, the creator of a widely circulated list of men accused of sexual misconduct that included him.

Mr. Elliott, 48, who denied having assaulted anyone, said in an interview that after his essay about the accusation was rebuffed by mainstream news outlets and with his career in shambles, he saw a defamation lawsuit as his only option.

“What would you do if you had been falsely accused of rape?” he said.

There are lower-profile cases moving through the courts, too. Thirty-three out of 193 cases that the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund supports involve defending workers who came forward about sexual harassment and were then sued for defamation, said Sharyn Tejani, the fund’s director.

For many plaintiffs, a benefit of suing for defamation is the opportunity to air the facts of what happened years ago, even if they are unable to sue for harassment or assault.

“In order to prove you’re a truth teller, you have to prove it happened,” said Joseph Cammarata, who represented seven Cosby accusers. “This is a direct way to get at the person who assaulted you.”

In Ms. Judd’s case, it could lead to a hearing over her account of visiting Mr. Weinstein’s room at the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel one morning in late 1996 or early 1997, expecting a professional breakfast. She said that Mr. Weinstein, wearing a bathrobe, had requested to massage her or for her to watch him shower, and that she had refused.

Ms. Judd has argued that Miramax called her a “nightmare to work with” in retaliation for the hotel encounter. Miramax’s alleged conversation with Mr. Jackson occurred more than 20 years ago. The statute of limitations for a defamation claim in California is just one year, but the judge let the case go forward, saying that it was plausible that Ms. Judd would only learn about the conversation through Mr. Jackson’s 2017 interview. (The judge threw out Ms. Judd’s sexual harassment claim, saying it did not fall within the scope of California law.)

Mr. Weinstein has not directly disputed the allegation that Miramax said Ms. Judd was a “nightmare to work with” but has argued that his attempts to land her major acting roles later on showed that he was not trying to hinder her career. He has denied having any nonconsensual sexual encounters, including with the two women at the center of his rape trial in Manhattan. On Monday, prosecutors in Los Angeles announced that he had been charged with rape and sexual battery in connection with encounters with two women there.

Compared with some other countries, in the United States a defamation case is relatively difficult to win, because of a standard set by the Supreme Court to protect freedom of the press. If the plaintiff is a public figure, as many are, he or she must prove the statement was both false and made with “reckless disregard” for whether it was true.

In countries without the same high bar, including China, Australia and France, men have won high-profile defamation cases against women or news outlets that published their stories.

In the United States, a court must also find that the speech in question is based in fact and not purely opinion. Part of Mr. Trump’s argument against Ms. Zervos is that his statements were “fiery rhetoric, hyperbole and opinion” that are protected by the Constitution. Mr. Moore has made a similar argument. In denying Mr. Trump’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, a judge wrote that he knew exactly what transpired between him and Ms. Zervos, so his calling her a liar was akin to an assertion of fact.

The public airing of #MeToo stories over the past two years has made these suits noticeable, but the strategy is not entirely new. In 1994, Paula Jones sued President Bill Clinton alleging that he had exposed himself to her when he was governor of Arkansas. One portion of the lawsuit accused him and his associates of defaming Ms. Jones by characterizing her as a liar.

A judge dismissed the claim, writing that the comments were “mere denials of the allegations and the questioning of plaintiff’s motives.” Mr. Clinton settled the rest of the suit for $850,000, without admitting wrongdoing; his lying about his affair with Monica Lewinsky during the Jones lawsuit led to his impeachment.

But a more recent ruling, by New York’s highest court, has given hope to lawyers representing women. The court in 2014 revived a lawsuit filed by two men against Jim Boeheim, the Syracuse University basketball coach, who had accused the two men of lying when they said one of Mr. Boeheim’s assistants, Bernie Fine, had abused them as children. The defamation lawsuit was settled in 2015. (Mr. Fine lost his job, but after an investigation, he was not charged with a crime.)

The decision made the New York court system an attractive place to file this kind of lawsuit, said Mariann Wang, who represented the plaintiffs in that case, and Ms. Zervos until recently.

Since the #MeToo movement took off, a number of states have lengthened the statutes of limitations for sexual assault claims, meaning future victims may have less need to rely on defamation lawsuits.

But those suits remain the only legal option for people like Therese Serignese, who said Mr. Cosby gave her pills backstage at a show in Las Vegas in 1976, when she was 19. The next memory she had was waking up to realize that she was being sexually violated.

She joined a lawsuit in 2015 asserting that representatives for Mr. Cosby had defamed her and other women by calling stories like theirs “fantastical” and “past the point of absurdity.” Mr. Cosby’s insurance company settled the lawsuit in April, about a year after he was convicted of sexual assault.

“My point was to make him accountable,” Ms. Serignese, 62, said. “Put him out there and make him work to prove that I’m not telling the truth. Because I knew I was telling the truth.”

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