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Intel Sued Under US Wiretapping Laws – Tracking User Activity on its Website!

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Intel is being sued under a Florida state wiretapping law for using software on its website to capture keystrokes & mouse movements of people that visit it. The case is one of many that private citizens have brought against companies to dispute their use of session-replay technology.

A class-action suit in Florida accuses Intel of unlawfully intercepting communications by using session-replay software to capture the interaction of people visiting the corporate homepage Intel.com.

class-action suit (PDF) in the Circuit Court of the 5th Judicial Circuit In & For Lake County, Florida, alleges that the tech giant unlawfully intercepted communications without user consent because of its use of analytics technology on its website.

Session Replay Software

The plaintiff, Holly Londers, a Lake County resident, filed the suit in Feb. in a Florida State Court; it was moved to the Federal District Court in Orlando this week.

At issue in the case is session replay software that Intel & many other companies–use on their respective websites that can track how people interact with the site, including recording their mouse movements & clicks, information they input into the site, & the pages & content they view, according to the suit.

The suit claims that this activity by Intel violates the 2020 Florida Security of Communications Act, which makes it illegal to intentionally intercept another person’s electronic communications without 1st letting the person know & asking for his or her consent.

Plaintiff Argument

Londers commented that she visited Intel’s site about 12x over the past year prior to Jan. 2021. During “one or more of these visits,” Intel tracked & recorded her activity on the site, intercepting her mouse movements, keystrokes & other aspects of how she interacted with the site without her knowledge or consent, according to the filing.

“Defendant’s surreptitious interception of Plaintiff’s electronic communications caused Plaintiff harm, including invasion of her privacy and/or the exposure of private information,” states the filing.

Intel also engaged in this activity with other Florida residents who used its website without their knowing or consenting to the session recording, the suit alleges. In fact, the class in the suit covers everyone in the State of Florida who visited Intel’s site & whose electronic interaction was intercepted by the company.

Injunctive Relief’

The plaintiffs in the case wish to stop Intel’s collection of this activity on its website through ‘injunctive relief’, according to the filing.

Whilst the plaintiffs did not disclose the software that they believe Intel is using to record website session information, a published report said it is likely Clicktale, which analytics software maker Contentsquare acquired in 2019.

Cloud-Based

The software has been described in an online review as a cloud-based analytic system & service, that allows a company to visualize a customer’s experience on its website from their perspective. Supposedly, it is meant to help companies to improve their website by responding to how people interact with it.

Intel declined to comment on whether it uses Clicktale or another type of session-replay software on its website.

Legal Precedent

There is legal precedent for bringing cases against technology companies for session reporting, though so far none have resulted in any judgments against technology companies.

A 2017 case filed in the Southern District of New York, Cohen vs. Casper Sleep, raised similar wiretapping claims against Casper Sleep & Navistone Inc. That suit used the US national wiretapping law, the US Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, as its basis.

Currently Pending

Eventually, the New York case was dismissed in 2018 for failure to properly state a claim.

Some other US cases — mainly in Florida & California, which have similar wiretapping laws are currently pending, with companies such as Fandango, Foot Locker, Frontier Airlines, Ray Ban, Banana Republic & others, counted among those accused of illegally intercepting user communications.

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