Can I File a Web Tracking Lawsuit?
Some websites allegedly ignore requests to decline cookies. This could be a clear violation of state privacy laws, and could be grounds for taking legal action. If you have disabled cookies on a particular site and have good reason to believe your online movements are still being tracked, contact us to investigate.
The cookies, pixels, and other tracking tools are not themselves the issue. Website tracking is a critical element of data collection and analysis for web-based businesses. Many popular sites we use monitoring user activity, behavior, preferences, and interactions. That is not in itself harmful. The issue is not obtaining clear consent from the consumer.
A consumer must clearly understand the web tracking terms offered by a particular website. It is commonplace for websites to utilize third-party tracking tools, but there can be a fine line between good web-based business practice and violating users’ privacy.
Due to increases in illegal user tracking, data collection, data brokering, and data misuse, more state governments are attempting to protect the privacy rights of their residents. Some state privacy laws include:
- Colorado Privacy Act (CPA)
- Connecticut Personal Data Privacy and Online Monitoring Act (CTDPA)
- Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (VCDPA)
The California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) aim to protect the data privacy and security of individuals in the state, and it requires businesses to inform users about data tracking activities. Under the CCPA, California residents have the right to:
- Know what information is collected about them and how it’s used and shared
- Delete personal information about them
- Opt out of the selling or sharing of their personal information
- Limit the use and disclosure of their sensitive personal information
- Non-discrimination for exercising any right under the CCPA
Understanding Web Tracking Methods
Websites and apps track visitors’ user online behavior with various tools and methods, all of which vary depending on the specific information a company is interested in. Some sites will say they merely want to improve the consumer experience. This may be true, but they could also want to collect data as a commodity and sell it for a profit.
Below are some of the more widely used Web tracking tools:
- IP Tracking: Website operators can use users’ IP addresses to determine their location, helpful in determining demographics, advertisement strategies, and target marketing.
- Session Replay Software: This software can record mouse clicks, keyboard strokes, video activity, or cursor movements.
- Chatbots: This refers to artificial intelligence that interacts with consumers that can record any data entered into a chat box.
- Cookies: Small bits of data that websites store on a user’s device. Cookies are downloaded to your browser by a website that contain unique identifier data. These kinds of files are automatically stored on a device whilst visiting a website and enable website owners to see browsing behavior, preferences, and interactions with the site. Some cookies can be used to track users across multiple websites and gather a huge amount of data.
- Pixel Tracking: Web beacons or tracking pixels are small, transparent images added to web pages and enable website owners to collect data. Web beacons are often alongside cookies to monitor user activity more accurately. Due to several complaints from consumers who say their privacy was violated by websites, a number of pixel tracking class action lawsuits have been filed against Meta Platforms and other companies.
Web tracking methods are constantly evolving and subject to change. Get in touch with a lawyer if you believe a new form of tracking has violated your privacy rights.
If I Decline Cookies, Can Websites Still Track Me?
Some cookies are considered harmless, but others remain active across a range of websites and gather information about your behavior and what you click on. These are called third-party persistent cookies or tracking cookies. Tracking cookies can be rather invasive, so much so that some antivirus programs identify them as spyware.
Tracking cookies are typically used for advertising purposes. Retargeting is a data collection tactic that uses tracking cookies to show ads to users who have previously visited a specific site or clicked on a particular product. If you’ve ever looked at a product on a website and then started seeing ads for similar products on other websites, you’ve seen first-hand retargeting.
Is Website User Tracking Illegal?
Web tracking is not illegal but federal data privacy laws regulate it. Also, some states have implemented more modern, comprehensive laws concerning data privacy and website user tracking. The majority of these privacy laws require websites to obtain your consent before tracking you.
Some key federal online privacy laws include:
- The Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC) regulates unfair or deceptive commercial practices. The FTC is the primary federal regulator in the consumer privacy arena and has recently ruled against large data brokers for their unnecessary collection of location data.
- The Video Privacy Protection Act of 1988 (VPPA) is a little dated, but the basic tenets of the law can still protect you against the collection and sharing of your viewing history and other data with third parties.
- The Computer Fraud & Abuse Act (CFAA) regulates computer-related activities, including the unauthorized access of a computer to obtain certain information, defraud, or obtain anything of value from individuals.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the legality of any website tracking activity or technology, contact a qualified lawyer who can inform you of your rights.
What Damages Are Available in Web Tracking and Privacy Lawsuits?
Damages available in consumer web tracking lawsuits can vary depending on the specific state privacy laws and circumstances.
Here are some common types of damages that may be available in privacy lawsuits:
- Compensatory Damages: These can compensate the plaintiff for the actual harm they suffered due to the personal privacy violations. It can include non-monetary losses, such as emotional distress.
- Statutory Damages: Some data privacy laws, like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), provide for “statutory damages.” These are predetermined amounts that can be awarded to plaintiffs without the need to prove actual harm.
- Punitive Damages: In cases where the defendant’s conduct is particularly egregious, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the wrongdoer and deter others from similar actions.
- Injunctive Relief: Courts may issue injunctions (orders) to prevent further online privacy violations or to compel the defendant to take specific actions to improve user privacy and protect consumer data.
- Equitable Remedies: Plaintiffs may seek equitable remedies, such as the destruction of wrongfully obtained data.
The availability and extent of damages will depend on the specific violations, facts of the case, and the jurisdiction where the complaint is filed. Often, the most important issue in web tracking and data privacy cases is whether the defendant obtained proper data collection consent.
Consumers who believe their privacy rights have been violated should consult with an attorney experienced in online privacy and consumer protection law to understand their rights and potential legal action.
Hire a Pixel Litigation Attorney
We strongly believe consumers should be aware when their movements and behavior are being tracked. When consumers choose to decline cookies, pixels or other tracking tools, they must be confident that their privacy requests are respected.
Why Hire Our Law Firm
Our cybersecurity lawyers have filed numerous privacy lawsuits, including recent pixel tracking, data breach, data misuse and other online privacy violation claims. Our team has years of combined experience handling complex cases.
We offer free consultations and case reviews for plaintiffs in all fifty states. Contact our legal team at (513) 381-2333 to learn more about class action web tracking lawsuits, pixel litigation, and how to file a claim.
Our Firm can help you identify the exposure sources and then initiate the proper claims so that will provide the security you and your family require.
Pixel Tracking Lawsuits FAQs
Websites regularly collect demographic information, conversion rates, and other data used to create personalized, targeted advertisements. Unless you properly adjust your privacy settings in your browser, advertising companies can collect a history of websites you visit. They may record search queries, purchases, device information, location, when and where you see previous ads, and what you click on.
It’s not an easy task to remain completely private and still use the websites and apps you like. There are some privacy settings you can adjust on your browser, though if you lock it down to a high degree, many websites will not function properly.
To prevent tracking cookies from monitoring you, the first thing you can do is to delete the ones you have already collected. You should be able to clear existing cookies in your browser settings. You can set your browser to delete cookies every time you finish browsing or “opt out” of cookies on your browser.
Located in your browser settings is a “Do Not Track” option. Enabling this feature will send a request for websites to disable its cross-site web tracking.
Web tracking lawsuits and pixel tracking class action lawsuits rely on a variety of federal statutes, state laws, and principles of tort and contract law, including:
- Federal and state anti-wiretapping laws
- Negligent misrepresentation
- Invasion of privacy
- Breach of contract
- Breach of fiduciary duty
Class action lawsuits can be complex, so be sure to contact a lawyer who can guide you through the process. At The Lyon Firm, we are on hand to represent you and seek the appropriate legal remedy on your behalf.