Class-action lawsuits accuse companies of logging browser and chat activity

Browser Logging Class Actions Overview:

  • Who: Hot Topic, Meta Platforms, Michaels, Pet Supplies Plus, Microsoft, GameStop, Zillow, Lowes and Expedia were accused this month of tracking the browser activity of visitors to their website.
  • Why: Consumers accuse the companies of secretly tracking activity, with some allegedly sharing the information with third parties.
  • Where: Alleged browser logging is happening nationwide.

Consumers filed several class action lawsuits this month against companies accused of failing to obtain consent before illegally recording and then often sharing their website user activity with third parties like Facebook.

Consumers have argued that companies including Hot Topic, GameStop, and Zillow, among others, use software to track, record, and share both the private browsing activities and chat conversations of website visitors.

Consumers say companies share browser activity with third-party companies like Facebook to help monetize data and increase the effectiveness of things like targeted advertising.

Hot Topic accused of secretly bugging website visitors for financial gain

A Hot Topic customer filed a class action lawsuit against the company earlier this month, claiming the company illegally recorded chat conversations of people who have used the chat function of its website.

The complaining customer claims that Hot Topic uses a third-party company to covertly tap the communications of its website visitors in order to harvest their data for its own financial benefit.

The lawsuit accuses Hot Topic of secretly embedding a code into its website’s chat function that allows the company to automatically record and create a transcript of a private conversation.

“Visitors would be shocked and dismayed to know that the defendant is secretly recording these conversations and paying a third party to listen to them in real time under the guise of ‘data analytics,'” the Hot Topic class action lawsuit states.

Meta class action alleging browser registration filed this month

Also this month, a class action lawsuit filed against Meta Platforms Inc. alleges that the company intercepts, monitors and records users’ private browser activity through its Facebook application.

Consumers behind the class action allege that Meta redirects users who click on a link to an external website to its own in-app browser to secretly intercept data it allegedly uses to help generate revenue advertising and exploiting data for profit.

The consumers behind the class action claim that Meta, through JavaScript code, intercepts data, including text entries, passwords and other confidential and personally identifiable information.

Meta fails to inform Facebook users, including those who opt out of tracking, that it monitors and records their activity outside of the app, the Meta class action alleges.

Michaels class action lawsuit accuses retailer of using ‘session replay’ software

A consumer filed a class action lawsuit against Michaels Stores Inc. earlier this month for allegedly using “session replay” software to unlawfully intercept customer interactions on its website.

The consumer behind the complaint alleges that the software used by Michaels is not a traditional cookie or analytics tool, but rather “sophisticated computer software” that allows it to track website users across multiple manners.

Michaels allegedly uses the data to create what amounts to a video replay of a customer’s entire visit to its website.

The consumer argues that if personal information were to leak, users of the Michaels website would be exposed to a number of privacy risks, including identity theft and various online scams.

Pet Supplies Plus allegedly uses Microsoft to track website visitors

Also this month, Pet Supplies Plus and Microsoft faced allegations from one of Pet Supplies’ customers that the companies worked together to secretly wiretap visitors on the Pet Supplies Plus website.

The customer claims that Pet Supplies Plus has instructed Microsoft and other third-party vendors to embed JavaScript coding on its website that allows it to record the browser activity of visitors to its website.

The client accuses Pet Supplies Plus of using the code to track electronic communications such as mouse movements, keystrokes and alleges that Microsoft listens to visitors to all of its clients’ websites, including Pet Supplies Plus.

“After intercepting and capturing website communications, the PSP and Session Replay providers use these website communications to re-create the website visitors entire visit to,” states the Pet Supplies Plus class action lawsuit.

Class action claims retailer GameStop shares transcripts of private conversations with third-party data harvester

Meanwhile, a consumer alleges that GameStop secretly creates transcripts of private conversations made on the chat function of its website before sharing them with a third party data collector.

The consumer claims that GameStop is sharing the secret transcripts with Zendesk, a third-party company he claims is known to boast of its data-gathering prowess.

GameStop customers would be “shocked and appalled” if they knew the company was secretly recording their conversations, according to the GameStop class action lawsuit, which alleges the company is engaging in conduct that is both “unlawful and offensive.”

“Given the nature of Defendant’s business, visitors to the Website generally share highly personal and sensitive data with Defendant when using the Website’s chat function,” the GameStop class action lawsuit states.

Zillow, Lowes and Expedia reportedly use spyware to track website visitor interactions

Also this month, Zillow, Lowes and Expedia each faced class action lawsuits arguing that they used spyware to secretly track user interactions on their respective websites.

The consumer behind each of the three individual complaints alleged that Zillow, Lowes and Expedia used spyware called “session replay” to intercept website interactions such as keystrokes and mouse movements, between others.

What do you think about claims that companies are logging users’ browser activity and site interactions? Let us know in the comments!

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