Hipster Sued For Address-Book Uploads
The mobile company Hipster has been hit with another privacy lawsuit alleging that it wrongly uploaded users' address books.
The lawsuit, filed this week in federal court in the Northern District of California, marks at least the second time that Hipster has been sued for allegedly importing users' contacts without their consent. The case comes the same week that Path settled FTC charges for allegedly deceiving users by uploading their contacts.
The new case against Hipster, now owned by AOL, was filed by three Texas residents -- Francisco Espitita, Vanessa Zendejas and Joe Sanchez Frairer. They allege in a potential class-action that Hipster was able to obtain addresses of users' family and friends, as well as "highly sensitive personal information, revealing contact address data for professional treatment involving sexuality, mental illness, alcoholism, incest, rape and domestic violence."
Texas-based attorney Joseph Malley, who has brought privacy cases against Facebook and other Web companies, is representing the consumers who sued Hipster.
The case stems from a February 2012 report stating that Hipster's app uploaded users' address books without their consent. Then-CEO Doug Ludlow confirmed the report, which was published by an outside developer, and apologized for the data collection. The company was acquired by AOL the following month.
Last year, Hipster was one of more than 12 mobile companies named in a potential class-action privacy lawsuit. That case, brought by Texas resident Marc Opperman, was recently transferred to the Northern District of California.
Online companies accused of privacy violations typically argue that users can't proceed in court without some form of economic injury. The group that is suing Hipster addresses that hurdle in its complaint by alleging that the data collection drained their battery life and bandwidth. They also allege they incurred costs to "remove embedded code" and reinstall other programs.
It's not yet clear whether they will be able to proceed based on those alleged injuries. But a federal judge in California recently ruled that a user who is suing Path could proceed, based on his contention that removing the app's "tracking software" could cost as much as $12,500. Path said that deleting the code was "a simple act requiring no more than two swipes" on the iPhone, but the judge ruled that the issue couldn't be decided without more evidence.