Ad firm sued for ?spying on children?

Lawsuit alleges that use of Flash cookies constitutes violation of privacy
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A web advertising company, called Clearspring Technologies, is being sued by a group of concerned parents, who say that the company’s use of Flash cookies is a form of spying.

According to Cnet, Clearspring makes widgets and offers a service that delivers ads via widgets, which can be found on a range of websites, including Disney, Playlist.com and SodaHead. The lawsuit alleges that the use of Flash cookies to track users browsing habits, and therefore offer more targeted advertising, constitutes an invasion of privacy.

The suit claims that users weren’t just tracked at the websites that used the widgets in question, but had their browsing recorded wherever they went online. In addition, even those users who cleared their system of cookies would have them ‘respawned’ at the earliest opportunity. These acts are claimed to violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Californian Computer Crime law, and the Californian Invasion of Privacy Act due to the gathering of sensitive information.

“The sensitive information may include such things as users' video-viewing choices and personal characteristics such as gender, age, race, number of children, education level, geographic location, and household income,” reads the complaint.

The lawsuit could have wide ranging consequences, since more than half of the world’s most popular websites use this technology, and the provision of targeted advertising is a major selling point for most web advertising companies and platforms.

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