The most recent class-action privacy suit against comScore highlights the pitfalls of less-than-transparent data collection protocols. According to Reuters, “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.”
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.
Even more troubling…
According to the lawsuit, comScore attracts some users by advertising on websites. But the lawsuit also accuses comScore of using subsidiaries with innocuous names to disseminate its software and gain access to millions of consumers’ computers and networks.
ComScore software is embedded in free screensavers, games and other applications without proper notice, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in a Chicago federal court.
While transparent privacy policies can, to some extent allow (read: coax) knowing users into agreeing to release certain info (e.g., locations, demographic data, etc…), it is hard to imagine that such policies or EULAs would be easily available or viewable in embedded software. We will follow this suit and see how it progresses. Mike Harris and Jeff Dunstan, individually, and on behalf of a class of similarly situated individuals v. comScore Inc, case no. 11-cv-5807
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