Safari Users Seek To Revive Case Against Google, WPP, Vibrant Media

A group of consumers this week appealed a recent dismissal of a privacy lawsuit against Google, Vibrant Media and WPP's Media Innovation Group, all of which allegedly circumvented Safari's privacy settings.

The consumers filed a notice of appeal on Tuesday, but haven't yet presented their written argument to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. They are appealing U.S. District Court Judge Sue Robinson's decision throwing out the case earlier this month. Robinson, based in Wilmington, Del., said the consumers couldn't proceed because they didn't show they were harmed by the potential privacy violation.

Robinson also ruled that even if the companies circumvented Safari's default settings, doing so didn't violate the federal wiretap law.

The lawsuit stemmed from a report last year by Stanford grad student Jonathan Mayer, who said the four companies were circumventing Safari's no-tracking settings. As a result, the companies were able to drop tracking cookies and serve ads to Web users based on their Internet activity.

Google, Vibrant Media and PointRoll confirmed Mayer's report when it came out in February, adding that they had stopped tracking Safari users or would soon do so. WPP has never confirmed the report. None of the companies were accused of linking cookie-based data to users' names or other personally identifiable information.

In July, PointRoll agreed to settle the allegations by deleting any cookies it collected through from Safari users. Robinson granted that deal preliminary approval several days before she dismissed the lawsuit against the other three companies.

She clarified this week that her order dismissing the lawsuit against Google, Vibrant Media and WPP doesn't affect PointRoll's obligations under its settlement agreement.


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