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Analytics Company Settles Charges For User Tracking 43

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-track-me-bro dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A web analytics company has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it violated federal law by using its web-tracking software that collected personal data without disclosing the extent of the information that it was collecting. The company, Compete Inc., also allegedly failed to honor promises it made to protect the personal data it collected. KISSmetrics, the developer and seller of the homonymous tool, has agreed to pay up to make the suit go away, but the the two plaintiffs will get only $5,000 each, while the rest of the money — more than half a million dollars — will go to their lawyers for legal fees."
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Analytics Company Settles Charges For User Tracking

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  • If the government did this or is it, doing this, it would be tossed out of court on a national security / executive order basis.
    • Or maybe Google is just finding another way to kill off the competition, using the FTC as its proxy. Lesson? Cover your tracks! Hide those hard drives...

  • by macbeth66 (204889) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @08:38PM (#41759699)

    but the the two plaintiffs will get only $5,000 each, while the rest of the money — more than half a million dollars — will go to their lawyers for legal fees."

    Posted at the end of the submission.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @08:47PM (#41759781)
      Already modded, but wanted to add something, so posting anonymously. In cases such as this, as well as class actions, lawyer fees really need to be set as a percentage, maybe 10-15%, of what the plaintiffs/class receive. This ensures both that the party causing the harm gets punished, and the part(y)(ies) that experienced the harm receive restitution as well. Because as it currently sits, these types of cases seem to be more of a welfare program for lawyers than anything else.
      • by fyi101 (2715891)

        I always see all this outrage about lawyers fees at Slashdot, and how the plaintiffs get just a fraction, and how this should be made illegal, etc. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the case many times that the lawyers bare the cost of the lawsuit (sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in legal and evidence investigation, staff, expert testimony, etc.) and therefore the risk, and if they lose they get nothing? I mean it's peachy and everything if they WIN and they get 10-15% and the plaintiffs

        • sn't the case many times that the lawyers bare the cost of the lawsuit

          No. Attorneys only take cases such as these when they know they will win. What would be the point of taking a case where they, the attorney, bore the expenses without being compensated?

          This was a clear cut case so the attorneys took it knowing they could get bundles of money for themselves while making it seem like the plaintiffs won a victory.

          An instructor for one of my legal classes made the following statement when dea
          • by fyi101 (2715891)

            Huh? What does not taking obvious loser cases have to do with this? And since when does knowing you can win a case mean you are taking advantage of the plaintiffs? I mean, if it's so "clear cut", they can surely "shop around" for lawyers then... The plaintiffs are not going to win this without some good legal advice anyway, are they?

            By the way, "Never take a case you know you won't win" contradicts your sig: "We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security. -- Dwight D. Eisenhower" (I'm

      • by Hentes (2461350)

        I disagree, two cases can be very different. This was not a highly technical case, and lawyers with the necessary technological and legal knowledge are rare, therefore expensive.

    • isnt that the usual, the only ones who win in any trial is the lawyers and the judges anyway, unless maybe you get to be apple vs. samsung, and still then by the time it's over i wonder how much money they put into it
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The wired article that this is based on actually says that the two plaintiffs will have to split the $5000...bet their wishing they went to law school right now.

  • Systematic abuse against the privacy of many, yet all it takes is a little money to make us all forget as if it never happened.

    Once again, the lawyers win, and nobody else. What exactly did they contribute here?

    • Re:Lawyers (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ThatsMyNick (2004126) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @08:44PM (#41759763)

      Justice. Seriously, they did.

    • by FauxReal (653820)
      Their contribution was to help pave the way for the lawsuit to disappear. Sounds like a win/win between them and the defendants. Also, the plaintiffs get a settlement. A technical win/win/win. I'm sure everyone will spend the next weekend at their winter beach houses celebrating with some fine caviar and champagne relieved to see that privacy is once again on their side.
    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      In addition, the settlement bars misrepresentations about the companyâ(TM)s privacy and data security practices and requires that it implement a comprehensive information security program with independent third-party audits every two years for 20 years.

      There's more to the proposed settlement than just "a little money"

      That said, what judge would approve $10,000 for the plaintiffs and $500,000 for the lawyers?
      That'd be completely fucked if it gets approved.

      • by retchdog (1319261)

        the slashdot and net-security.org articles are wrong, it's actually $5,000 total ($2,500 each) and $510,000 for the lawyers.

        and they might not even get that: ``In the event the Court approves the Settlement, but declines to award Named Plaintiffs’ Incentive Awards in the amount requested by Settlement Class Counsel and agreed by the Parties, the Settlement will nevertheless be binding on the Parties."

        what a beautiful racket.

  • Apparently the real purpose of class action suits is not compensation for the victims, but rather punishment of the guilty; if that is really the case, it makes sense that the lawyers who did the work should be the big winners. But, in my mind, that a very big "if."
    • No they shouldn't. If the assertion is correct that punishment is the goal, then the fines should go to either the victims or to the state (except in cases where the defendant is the state...). The lawyers' compensation should not be unlimited.

      Perhaps the fines should go to a kitty to be use to pay lawyers' fees for those who have been harmed, but who do not have the resources to hire their own lawyers, that way we can remove the argument that the lawyers' wins have to be huge to make up for deserving cas

      • by Desler (1608317)

        Then don't hire a lawyer on contingency if you don't like their terms. No one forces these people to sign the contract with the lawyer.

  • by scdeimos (632778) on Wednesday October 24, 2012 @10:51PM (#41760637)

    The summary doesn't make it clear: these are two separate suits. From TFA:

    1. Compete failed to remove personal data before transmitting it; failed to provide reasonable and appropriate data security; transmitted sensitive information from secure websites in readable text; failed to design and implement reasonable safeguards to protect consumers’ data; and failed to use readily available measures to mitigate the risk to consumers’ data. The proposed settlement order requires Compete and its clients to fully disclose the information they collect and get consumers’ express consent before they collect consumers’ data in the future, that the company delete or anonymize the use of the consumer data it already has collected, and that it provide directions to consumers for uninstalling its software. The settlement bars misrepresentations about the company’s privacy and data security practices and requires that it implement a comprehensive information security program with independent third-party audits every two years for 20 years.

    2. KISSmetrics has also agreed to settle a lawsuit that charged them with using a tool that would "resuscitate" cookies deleted by privacy-minded users in order to surreptitiously track their online behavior. KISSmetrics has agreed to pay up to make the suit go away, but the two plaintiffs will get only $5,000 each, while the rest of the money - more than half a million dollars - will go to their lawyers for legal fees. The settlement does not contain an admission of guilt from KISSmetrics, but just a promise that it will not track users without their permission in the future.

  • There's two completely different lawsuits mentioned in TFA which the editor (oh. Samzenpus.) managed to compress into one when doing the summary. Compete doesn't actually have to pay a cent, but their settlement with the FTC requires them to complete third party audits every two years, immediately cease the infringing activity, delete (or anonymize) any data it already collected, and get express consent before ever collecting info again. KISSmetrics has to pay half a million dollars for developing their pla

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