The war for data rages on as companies continue to mine their customers’ data and their customers continue to sue them for it.
The latest data-related lawsuit was filed last month against Casper, a direct-to-consumer startup that makes and delivers mattresses, on behalf of visitors to its website. According to the class action lawsuit, Casper used a software company called NaviStone (which is also listed as a defendant in the lawsuit) to collect personal information from visitors to the Casper website, including the visitor’s name, address, IP address, and their online shopping habits, including keystrokes and mouse clicks.
The lawsuit alleges NaviStone’s code (which Casper uses on its website) begins transmitting information about the individual as soon as they load the Casper website onto their browser, without the individual’s knowledge or consent. That meant information that visitors put into forms on Casper’s website went directly to the company, regardless of whether the person ever finished filling out the form or hit the “Submit” button.
The lawsuit alleges the violation amounts to wiretapping and is suing both companies under the federal Wiretap Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.
Both companies have responded dismissively to the lawsuit. NaviStone didn’t even realize it was being sued until it was contacted by a reporter, at which point it released a statement saying they are hopeful for a “conversation” in which the company can clear up any “misunderstandings” the plaintiff may have regarding the kinds of services NaviStone offers to its clients. While the company advertises on its website that it allows clients to reach website visitors who were previously unidentifiable, it also insists that it strictly adheres to all privacy laws.
In its response to the lawsuit, Casper claimed it was nothing more than an attempt to cash in on the success of a fast-growing startup.
Indeed, Casper, which is based in New York, famously raised $55 million a couple years ago from such celebrity investors as Leonardo DiCaprio and Adam Levine. In 2016, the company made $220 million, proving it had been a sound investment for movie stars and musicians alike.
But the recent class action consumer lawsuit might change all that, depending on the outcome and how consumers react.
This is also not the first time NaviStone has gotten into trouble. Earlier this year, Gizmodo published a story about more than one hundred companies that were using the companies code. After the publication of that article, several of the big-name companies that had been using NaviStone’s code stopped using it. Whether Casper will choose to follow as a result of the lawsuit remains to be seen.
But this isn’t even the first major lawsuit the new mattress company has had to face. Just two months earlier, Casper was sued by Serta for allegedly infringing on Serta’s patent for its Wave model.
The current consumer lawsuit was filed by another New Yorker, Brady Cohen, who said he visited the Casper website several times within a six-month period while he was in the market for a new mattress.
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