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    Update: KISSmetrics and Companies Sued On Privacy Grounds

    Recently, researchers at the University of California at Berkeley reported that KISSmetrics, which is used by Web sites to track visitors, was using tracking technology that consumers could not opt-out of.This week , Wired reported that KISSmetrics “quietly overhauled its web tracking methods over the weekend, and is now permitting users to block its surveillance.” Now, Wired has an update reporting that there’s a lawsuit concerning the tracking of consumers:

    Website analytics firm KISSmetrics and more than 20 of its customers, including Spotify, AOL’s About.me, Slideshare.net, Spokeo and the news site Gigaom.com were sued Monday on the grounds that KISSmetrics’ tracking technology violated federal and state privacy laws.

    The suit (.pdf), filed in a federal court in Northern California, is seeking class-action status and unspecified damages.

    At issue are methods KISSmetrics used — first reported by Wired.com — to track users who have deleted their cookies. The company juggled a variety of other technologies including Flash, Silverlight, HTML5 and so-called ETags in cached browser files to place and read unique identifiers. […]

    Sometime over the weekend, KISSmetrics published a longer privacy policy, and changed the “How It Works” page on its website to reveal that the company would stop using ETags. […]  The company added in a separate privacy policy for end-users that users can now set an opt-out cookie that excludes them from tracking entirely — as one can do with many online advertising companies and some analytics companies. […]

    “Defendants circumvented Plaintiffs and Class Members browser privacy controls, conducted tracking in unreasonable and unexpected way, and used Plaintiffs and Class Members’ Computer Assets to store LSOs [Local Storage Objects, or cookie-like files in Flash] and engage in other tracking exploits….”, the suit alleged. “Defendants did so knowing Plaintiffs and Class Members’ reasonably believed their privacy was protected.” […]

    The other companies named in the suit are BabyPips, Moo.com, RavenTools, Shoedazzle, 8tracks.com, Hasoffers.com, Kongregate.com, Livemocha.com, Rockettheme, RunKeeper, SEOMoz, Sharecash.org, visual.ly, Condueit (wibiya.com), and Flite (widgetbox.com).

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