Class Claims Fox|Hacks Into Computers


     LOS ANGELES (CN) – A class action claims Fox Entertainment Group hacked into millions of computers to install “rogue, cookie-like tracking code” to snoop on people who visit Fox’s “American Idol” website.




     The class claims Fox and Clearspring Technologies committed crimes, circumvented privacy settings, and that the rogue devices reinstall themselves even if their victims can find and delete them.
     Lead plaintiff Erica Intzekostas claims Fox and Clearspring Technologies concocted the plan “so they could help themselves to users’ personal information, and continue doing so for as long as defendants liked without ever having to ask or take a user’s ‘no’ for an answer. In fact, users’ ‘no’ answers were the reason defendants devised the scheme in the first place.”
     Intzekostas claims Clearspring developed a system to install cookies on users’ computers on behalf of advertisers such as Fox, along with a backup cookie that runs through Adobe Flash Player. That way, if a user deletes the first cookie, the “flash cookie” would “re-spawn” the tracking device, according to the federal complaint.
     Adobe Systems “condemned” the practice in a January 2010 letter to the Federal Trade Commission, Intzekostas says.
     Many Internet surfers object to the use of cookies, which advertisers use to monitor and profile consumers’ Internet activities. But Clearspring boasts, and advertises, that its services can “track every consumer that touches one of the widgets it distributes or manages,” according to the complaint.
     The class seeks restitution, disgorgement and punitive damages for computer fraud, computer crime, privacy invasion, trespass, unjust enrichment, and violations of consumer and business law. It also wants Fox and Clearspring enjoined from continuing their game.
     The class is represented by Avi Kreitenberg, with the Los Angeles officer of New York, N.Y.-based Kamberlaw.

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