‘Cookies’ Cause Bitter Backlash
Spate of Lawsuits Shows User Discomfort With Latest Innovations in Online-Tracking Technology
By JENNIFER VALENTINO-DEVRIESAnd EMILY STEEL
The Wall Street reports:
Since July, at least six suits have been filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against websites and companies that create advertising technology, accusing them of installing online-tracking tools that are so surreptitious that they essentially hack into users’ machines without their knowledge. All of the suits seek class-action status and accuse companies of violating the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and other laws against deceptive practices. …
In one of the lawsuits, filed last week in the Central District of California, three California residents sued Cable News Network, Travel Channel and others over alleged tracking of Web surfing on mobile phones using technology that the suit says is particularly difficult to delete. A spokesman for Scripps Networks Interactive Inc., which controls the Travel Channel, said the company doesn’t comment on pending litigation. Time Warner Inc., which owns CNN. …
The tools cited in the suits are part of an “arms race” in tracking technologies, said Chris Hoofnagle, director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology’s information-privacy programs. Some users, uncomfortable with tracking, now routinely block or delete cookies. “There are some in the industry who do not believe that users should be able to block tracking, so they are turning to increasingly sophisticated tools to track people,” he said. One such technology involves “Flash cookies,” which use Adobe Systems Inc.’s popular Flash program to save a small file on a user’s computer. ….
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