In the US, a lawsuit has been filed against online measurement specialist comScore, claiming it collected personal and confidential data - such as credit card numbers, passwords and Social Security numbers - from consumers' computers without their knowledge.
The plaintiffs, Mike Harris and Jeff Dunstan, have filed the suit in the US District Court in the Northern District of Illinois. The suit claims that 'comScore has developed highly intrusive and robust data collection software known by such names as RelevantKnowledge, OpinionSpy, Premier Opinion, OpinionSquare, PermissionResearch, and MarketScore, to surreptitiously siphon exorbitant amounts of sensitive and personal data from consumers' computers'.
It also claims that comScore's practices are in violation of a number of US laws, including the Stored Communications Act, Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act.
comScore in fact openly states that once a participant downloads its software, it monitors all the Internet behavior that occurs on the computer on which the application is installed. This includes both normal web browsing and the activity undertaken during secure sessions, such as filling a shopping basket, completing an application form or checking online accounts.
The firm makes efforts to automatically filter out confidential personally identifiable information, but admits that inadvertently it may collect such information about its panelists, and when this happens, it then purges its database.
Company spokesman Andrew Lipsman says the lawsuit is without merit and full of factual inaccuracies, and adds that comScore intends to 'aggressively defend itself' against the claims.
Web site: www.comscore.com .
All articles 2006-20 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas unless otherwise stated.