PointRoll Finalizes Safari Hack Settlement

A federal judge has signed off on PointRoll's settlement of a class-action lawsuit stemming from allegations that it circumvented Safari users' no-tracking settings.

In an order issued on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson in Delaware said the settlement is “fair, reasonable and adequate.”

The deal requires PointRoll to delete any cookies it collected from Safari users. The company also agreed to other privacy-related conditions. Among others, PointRoll will issue a public statement that its data-collection from Safari users was “not consistent with best industry practices.”

PointRoll also promised to allow advertisers to place the AdChoices icon in ads; that icon aims to notify Web users about online behavioral advertising and allow them to opt out. The company also will maintain a “remove all cookies” link on its home page for at least two years. The attorneys who sued the company will receive $115,000.

The settlement resolves allegations that PointRoll violated computer fraud and wiretap laws by placing cookies on the computers of Safari users. The case against Safari stems from a 2012 report by Stanford law graduate and computer scientist Jonathan Mayer, who said that PonitRoll and other companies -- Google, WPP's Media Innovation Group and Vibrant Media -- were circumventing Safari's no-tracking settings. Doing so allowed the companies to serve ads to Web users, based on their activity across sites. None of the companies facing suit for the so-called “Safari hack” were accused of linking cookie-based data to users' names or other personally identifiable information.

Google, Vibrant Media and WPP successfully fought the case. They prevailed last year, when Robinson ruled that the consumers couldn't show they had been harmed by the alleged circumvention. She also ruled that even if the companies circumvented Safari's default settings, doing so didn't violate the federal wiretap law.

The consumers have appealed that decision to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. Google, Vibrant Media and WPP are expected to file their response to the appeal next week.
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