SAN DIEGO (CN) - Lenovo loads computers with Superfish spyware that invades the privacy of customers by learning their Internet browsing habits, a class action claims.
Lead plaintiff Jessica N. Bennett sued Lenovo and Superfish on Feb. 19 in Federal Court, alleging violations of the California Invasion of Privacy Act, the Federal Wiretap Act, trespass and unfair competition. A similar federal class action was filed Monday in San Jose.
Bennett claims that the defendants "unlawfully used and damaged" her computer "to make money for themselves, while willfully disregarding plaintiff's rights to use and enjoy her personal property."
Bennett bought a Lenovo Yoga 2 laptop in 2014 to use in her blogging business. She soon began to see pop-ups on websites, but initially thought the pop-ups were on websites that had been hacked.
"Plaintiff was writing a blog post for a client when she noticed spam advertisements involving scantily clad women appearing on her client's website," the complaint states. "Plaintiff looked at a couple of other sites and did not see any advertisements, so she assumed the client's website was the problem."
A few hours later, Bennett says she saw the same batch of scandalous ads on a different, well-known website and realized her laptop was infected with spyware.
"Plaintiff searched web forums for help on removing the malicious spyware on her computer and learned that numerous other consumers were experiencing similar problems with the Superfish product on their recently purchased Lenovo laptop," the lawsuit states. "It was only after further research did plaintiff learn that the Lenovo laptops came pre-installed with the Superfish spyware."
Bennett says the spyware slows down laptops because it "takes up bandwidth over an Internet connection, uses up memory on a computer, causes the loss of data, compromises computer security features and frustrates computer users."
The life of a computer is also affected, because users are forced to run their computers longer due to slow performance time, which in turn uses more electricity.
Bennett says the spyware tracked her Internet use and invaded her privacy.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued an alert last week claiming that Lenovo pre-installed the Superfish spyware on some of their computers beginning in September 2014. The alert detailed instructions for users who seek to remove the spyware from their computers.
Lenovo issued a statement last week, claiming that in January it shut down server connections that enabled the software, and has since provided resources for users who want to remove the spyware.
"We acted swiftly and decisively once these concerns began to be raised," Lenovo said. "We apologize for causing any concern to any users for any reason - and we are always trying to learn from experience and improve what we do and how we do it."
In the statement, Lenovo denied installing the software "on any ThinkPad notebooks, nor any desktops, tablets, smartphones or servers; and it is no longer being installed on any Lenovo device."
Bennett seeks class certification, statutory damages, and disgorgement of profits. She is represented by Alexander Schack.
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