MatchLogic Faces Privacy Suit

In a class action suit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Denver, Colo., five Internet users accused online ad network and technology firm MatchLogic of privacy violations, stemming from the company’s use of cookies.

MatchLogic maintains a profile database of more than 72 million anonymous users. The listed plaintiffs, from New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois and California, allege in the suit that MatchLogic uses methods of tracking users without warning Web users “in any manner.”

The suit reads: “Plaintiffs allege that MatchLogic, Inc., has covertly, without consent or authorization, implanted ‘cookies’ upon Internet users’ computer hard disk drives and secretly tracked their movements across the Internet. Through the use of coolies and other surreptitious data collection methods, MatchLogic has secretly intercepted and accessed computer users’ personal data and Web browsing habits and has surreptitiously transmitted this personal and private information to MatchLogic for its commercial benefit.”

The plaintiffs also alleged that users’ names, email addresses, referring or visited URL, search engine terms, purchasing history and “other personal or demographic data” were personal and private information wrongfully collected by MatchLogic.

But in its publicly accessible privacy statement, MatchLogic said it collects opt-in email addresses and personally identifiable information, like names and addresses, only through contests it runs.

MatchLogic’s policy confirmed that it serves ads based on keyword search terms, geography, IP address and “clickstream data from MatchLogic cookies”.

Consumers can also opt-out of profiling, which MatchLogic’s policy maintains is anonymous and does not connect users’ names with surfing history.

In addition to unspecified damages, the plaintiffs are demanding that MatchLogic cease collecting this information and delete whatever personal data it already has collected. The suit also demands that MatchLogic give plaintiffs the profits it has accumulated through its use of the information.

MatchLogic referred all questions to its parent company, Excite@Home, which said it doesn’t comment on pending legislation. Attorneys for several of the plaintiffs were not available for comment.

Ad serving giant DoubleClick has been facing similar troubles throughout much of the year. The Alley-based company is defending itself from nineteen lawsuits concerning Internet user privacy and DoubleClick’s data collection. The suits, eighteen of which are class action, seek, in part, injunctive relief and unspecified damages.

Additionally, DoubleClick is under an FTC inquiry into its business practices to determine whether, in collecting and maintaining Internet users’ information, it has engaged in unfair or deceptive practices. In addition, DoubleClick’s ad serving and data collection practices are also the subject of inquiries by the attorneys general of several states.

Strangely enough, this is the second time in less than a week that Internet advertising-related companies have come up in Denver’s federal district court. Last week, 24/7 Media slapped anti-spam group MAPS with a lawsuit and a restraining order.

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