August 25, 2011

ComScore Sued for Violation of Consumer’s Privacy


ComScore, a leading online data tracking service, has been accused by plaintiffs of breaking several US privacy and communications laws.

According to the lawsuit, ComScore designs, distributes, and deploys its data collection software in a deceptive and calculated fashion to unlawfully monitor the most personal online movements of millions of consumers without their knowledge.

The lawsuit claims that ComScore´s Surveillance Software constantly collects and transmits data from a consumer´s computer to ComScore´s servers, such as usernames and passwords, search engine queries, currently viewed websites, credit card numbers and other sensitive financial information, goods purchased online and the price paid for the goods, and what specific advertisements clicked by the monitored consumer.

The plaintiffs claim that ComScore´s software finds and scans every file on the monitored computer, including documents, emails, spreadsheets, and sends information resulting from examination of those files to ComScore servers. ComScore admits to scanning files on the computers, but the plaintiffs also claim that the software scans the files of network volumes and other network hosts the computer is hooked to.

Andrew Lipsman, ComScore´s representative told Reuters, “We have reviewed the lawsuit and find it to be without merit and full of factual inaccuracies. ComScore intends to aggressively defend itself against these claims.”

Reuters notes that ComScore warns visitors to their website that they do collect information regarding all internet activity, but they claim, “We make commercially viable efforts to automatically filter confidential, personally identifiable information such as UserID, password, credit card numbers, and account numbers.”

The lawsuit also claims that the defendant also uses covert methods for deploying its software, whereby millions of consumers may be unaware that their online movement is being monitored.

The defendant is accused of using unscrupulous methods of inducing consumers to install their software. They use a method of bundling software developed by a third-party usually a game or screensaver. The monitoring software is typically installed in the background, leaving the consumer unaware of what is happening. Every time the monitoring software is installed, the third-party receives a payment by ComScore.

ComScore collects consumer data for over 1,800 businesses worldwide, with Microsoft being their largest customer. These customers are not accused of any wrong doing in the lawsuit.

The name of the suit is Mike Harris and Jeff Dunstan, individually, and on behalf of a class of similarly situated individuals v. ComScore Inc.


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