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The Stored Communications Act incorporates the Wiretap Act's definition of "contents." 18 U.S.C.S. § 2711(1). It also differentiates between contents and record information. Section 2702(c)(6) permits an electronic communications service or remote computing service to divulge a record or other information pertaining to a subscriber to or customer of such service, not including the contents of communications covered by § 2702(a)(1) or (a)(2) to any person other than a governmental entity. Although there is no specific statutory definition for "record," the Stored Communications Act provides examples of record information in a different provision that governs the government's power to require a provider of electronic communications service or remote computing service to disclose such information. 18 U.S.C.S. § 2703(c). According to § 2703(c), record information includes, among other things, the name, address, and subscriber number or identity of a subscriber to or customer of such service, but not the contents of communications. 18 U.S.C.S. § 2703(c)(2)(A), (B), (E). The Stored Communications Act generally precludes a covered entity from disclosing the contents of a communication, but permits disclosure of record information like the name, address, or client ID number of the entity's customers in certain circumstances.
The plaintiffs in these cases appeal the district court's dismissal with prejudice of their claims for violations of the Wiretap Act and the Stored Communications Act, two chapters within the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA). The plaintiffs allege that Facebook, Inc., a social networking company, and Zynga Game Network, Inc., a social gaming company, disclosed confidential user information to third parties.
Did the district court err in dismissing the claims for violations of the Wiretap Act and the Stored Communications Act, two chapters within the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, when Facebook and Zynga allegedly disclosed confidential user information to third parties?
The court held that the term "contents" referred to the intended message conveyed by the communication, and did not include record information as to the characteristics of the message generated in the course of the communication. The users' referred to header information that the website and company transmitted to third parties, which included the users' website ID and the address of the webpage from which their HTTP request to view another webpage was sent, did not meet the definition of contents as these pieces of information were not the substance, purport, or meaning of a communication. Accordingly, the users' complaints failed to state claims.