In the most recent suit, three California residents claimed that Ringleader Digital, a mobile ad technology company, violated their privacy with its use of a media stamp. The suit names companies that worked with Ringleader, such as CNN and WhitePages.com. The companies intentionally exploited the operating software on the plaintiffs’ mobile devices, according to the complaint, and tracked their mobile activity for ad purposes without permission.
Ringleader’s “software contains local storage databases that allow Web sites to store information on these devices, which when used appropriately enhance internet browsing on mobile devices,” according to the complaint. “Ringleader Digital found a way to exploit these databases for their own advantage.” In a statement, Ringleader’s CEO Bob Walczak said that the company “intends to defend its practices vigorously.”
Although similar suits were dismissed in 2001 and 2003, the new suits argue that both technology and the law have changed and that the holdings should not be applied to new, more sophisticated tracking technology.
To read the complaint in Aughenbaugh v. Ringleader Digital, click here.
Why it matters: Online tracking is a hot topic not only in class action lawsuits, but for lawmakers in Washington. Both of the privacy bills introduced in the House of Representatives this year – the Boucher-Stearns bill and the proposal by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) – would limit the practice. And the Federal Trade Commission has floated the idea of a “Do Not Track” registry similar to the federal do-not-call list, which would allow consumers to opt out of behavioral targeting.