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Netscape faces class action privacy lawsuit.

INTERNET BUSINESS NEWS-(C)1995-2000 M2 COMMUNICATIONS LTD

A web site operator based in New Jersey has filed a class action lawsuit against AOL and Netscape claiming that the companies are secretly monitoring file downloads from the Internet.

Chris Specht has alleged that the SmartDownload feature in the Netscape Communicator web browser is being used to track file downloads made by individual users and that the information, along with cookie information to identify the use, is being collated by Netscape.

Netscape, which was acquired by AOL in 1998, says that the SmartDownload feature is designed to 'assist with downloading files from the Internet'. It offers the facility to pause and resume downloads and after installation is automatically activated when the user downloads an '.exe' or '.zip' file from the Internet.

According to Wired News, the target of Specht's complaint is Netscape's awareness of all download activity. In a statement about its privacy policy the company says that SmartDownload will be used to send customised information to the user about the file being downloaded. It adds that the information is not stored and notes that the facility can be turned off at any time.

Specht alleges that this 'continuing surveillance' and identifying cookies provides Netscape with a profile of each person's file transfers and the suit proposes that the company is in violation of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986. Specht is seeking either USD100 per day for each day the software has been available or USD10,000 per Netscape user for 'theft of private information'.

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Publication:Internet Business News
Date:Jul 12, 2000
Words:276
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