Privacy lawsuit targets comScore

Discussion in 'privacy general' started by hawki, Aug 24, 2011.

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  1. hawki

    hawki Registered Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    DC Metro Area
    Privacy lawsuit targets comScore

    Tue, Aug 23 2011

    SAN FRANCISCO/BOSTON (Reuters) - Online data tracking service comScore Inc siphons confidential information including passwords, credit card numbers and Social Security numbers from unsuspecting users, according to a lawsuit filed on Tuesday.

    The proposed class action lawsuit, filed on behalf of two plaintiffs who downloaded comScore software, also says comScore scans all files on users' personal computers and modifies security settings, among other allegations.

    The lawsuit against comScore, one of the leading companies that measures and analyzes Internet traffic, seeks an injunction against several alleged practices, as well as damages under U.S. electronic communications privacy laws.

    ComScore collects data from people who get free software and chances to enter sweepstakes in exchange for their participation. It sells that information to more than 1,800 businesses around the world, including Best Buy Co, Facebook, Microsoft Corp and Yahoo Inc, according to comScore's website.

    Concerns have surfaced about comScore's data collection practices in the past, though the complaint filed on Tuesday by Chicago-based law firm Edelson McGuire appears to be the first such legal action taken against the company.

    The lawsuit says comScore's software scans all accessible files on a user's computer, as well as all files from other users on the same network, and transmits information about those files back to the company.

    "We have reviewed the lawsuit and find it to be without merit and full of factual inaccuracies," said comScore spokesman Andrew Lipsman. "ComScore intends to aggressively defend itself against these claims."

    Privacy advocates have grown more concerned about data collection, inadvertent or not, as people increasingly transfer tasks from shopping to banking onto the Internet.

    Last year, Google Inc was criticized for its Street View cars, which roam city streets for mapping purposes, because they accidentally collected reams of data from open, unsecured Wi-Fi networks.


    ComScore warns visitors to its website that its software monitors all Internet activity, including filling a shopping basket, completing an application form or checking online accounts.

    "We make commercially viable efforts to automatically filter confidential, personally identifiable information such as UserID, password, credit card numbers, and account numbers," the warning says.

    "Inadvertently, we may collect such information about our panelists; and when this happens, we make commercially viable efforts to purge our database of such information."

    In a 2008 blog post, comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni said the company obtains consent from people before installing data collection software, and that it does not disclose personally identifiable information to its clients.
    ComScore data is routinely cited in media reports about consumer preferences and social networking
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