Edelson PC is a class action law firm that specializes in suing tech companies for alleged privacy violations. The firm has sued pretty much every big tech firm youâve heard of — Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix — so Silicon Valley hates them.
And now they can hate them a little more. Last week, Edelson announced it was opening an office in San Francisco, the firmâs first office outside its Chicago headquarters. It is a natural expansion since many of their cases are litigated in the Bay Area.
Edelson and its founder, Jay Edelson, were profiled in The New York Times in April. Some of the firmâs recent cases include a suit that alleges Twitter is snooping on direct messages between users. Another, detailed in The New York Times story, claims Facebook has âsecretly amassed the worldâs largest privately held database of consumer biometrics data.â
Rafey Balabanian, Edelsonâs head of litigation, will run the San Francisco office. Mr. Balabanian has lead privacy cases against several Bay Area companies, including Netflix, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
âWe look forward to sharing a home with the tech companies that have such a profound impact on our daily lives,â said Mr. Rafey Balabanian in a press release announcing the move. âWe hope that our presence alone will serve as an important reminder that Silicon Valleyâs entrepreneurial spirit should not give way to consumersâ rights.â
Itâs a good bet that exactly zero technology firms feel the same way. Mr. Rafey Balabanian admitted as much in the interview, noting that there was âa bit of sarcasmâ in his canned press release comments.
âItâs like, Iâm sure theyâre pumped to have us out here,â he said.
Mr. Balabanian is bringing along two other attorneys from the firmâs Chicago office, and in an interview he said he would like the office to have eight lawyers by next summer.
Edelson will face a major test next year. Early this month the firm argued one of its highest profile cases, against a people searching service called Spokeo, in front of the Supreme Court. Edelsonâs suit alleges that Spokeo violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act by posting false information about consumers.
The case is being closely watched by tech giants — Google and others have filed amicus briefs in support of Spokeo — because it deals with the issue of âstanding,â a technical legal argument in which a defendant more or less says they canât be sued for violating the law if nobody lost money or got hurt.
That defense is tech firms’ go-to weapon in privacy cases, where it is hard to show how people are injured when companies look in on their emails or other data, usually for the purpose of selling ads. Thus, the Supreme Court’s decision will play a huge role in determining how much larger Edelson’s firm — and, by extension, the growing class action privacy industry — can get.