Marketing technology company NaviStone and the retailer Harriet Carter Gifts have been hit with a potential class-action lawsuit accusing them of violating people's privacy by using technology that identified otherwise unknown web users.
The lawsuit, brought by Laurence County, Pennsylvania resident Ashley Popa, centers on allegations that Harriet Carter's retail site uses NaviStone's code, which reportedly captures keystrokes and IP addresses that can be used to identify people.
If web users type their email or home addresses while on a retailer's site, those addresses are recorded by NaviStone's keystroke-logging capabilities -- even if the users never hit the "enter" button, according to a 2017 Gizmodo report.
“Once Harriet Carter installed Navistone's computer code, it acted as a secret wiretap that sends visitors' IP address and other [personally identifiable information] to Navistone in real time,” Popa alleges in a class-action complaint accusing the retailer, based in Cleveland, and Navistone, based in Cincinnati, of violating Pennsylvania's wiretap law and "intrusion upon seclusion."
“Harriet Carter's web site users reasonably believed that they could interact with Harriet Carter through its web site without their communications being intercepted, recorded, disclosed, and used by defendants,” Popa adds.
NaviStone's website says the company examines browsing behavior to determine whether visitors to a website might be potential purchasers, and uses outside data partners “to connect the visitor ID to a name and address,” which it sends “directly to the advertiser's printer or data services provider for inclusion in the mailing event.”
The lawsuit, which was filed in state court last month and transferred late last week to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, is similar to several other cases brought against NaviStone and various online retailers.
Last year, one federal judge in New Jersey dismissed a complaint against NaviStone and mortgage lender Quicken Loans, while a second federal judge in New York threw out complaints against NaviStone, mattress company Casper, men's outdoor apparel company Moosejaw and clothing retailer Tyrwhitt.
An additional lawsuit against New Moosejaw and NaviStone is currently pending in federal court in San Francisco, California.