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Google now facing class-action suit over Safari cookie circumvention

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nsane.forums    878

A class-action complaint has now been filed against Google for its circumvention of Safari's privacy features. The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for Delaware, accuses Google of willfully violating of the Federal Wiretap Act, the Stored Electronic Communication Act, and the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Google was discovered to have been working its way around Safari's blockage of third-party cookies last week by Stanford researcher Jonathan Mayer. The company immediately denied that the behavior was intentional and disabled the code that allowed it to install the tracking cookies in Safari. In a statement sent to Ars, Google Senior VP of Communications and Public Policy Rachel Whetstone claimed that the cookies didn't collect personal information and that the behavior was limited to Safari, though Microsoft claimed on Monday that Google was also tricking Internet Explorer into accepting the tracking cookies as well. (Google argues that Microsoft is using an impractical and outdated protocol that practically no one complies with.)

Still, privacy groups were up in arms and filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission over Google's behavior, and the new class-action lawsuit won't make things any easier. The plaintiff, Matthew Soble, argues that Google violated numerous federal laws designed to protect user privacy on the Web and asks the court for damages for all Safari-using Googlers like himself. Google declined to comment to BusinessWeek when asked about the lawsuit, but given the company's earlier responses, it looks like Google is maintaining that the tracking was a mistake, and that those who have opted out of Google's "interest-based advertising program" were unaffected—including Safari users.

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