Milberg Files Zillow Lawsuit Alleging Privacy Invasion
by Brian Eckert
Online homebuying marketplace Zillow is accused of deploying a tracking code that records the online actions of website visitors without their consent, in violation of Illinois law, according to a class action lawsuit filed by Milberg in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
If you are a resident of Illinois and visited Zillow’s website, you may automatically be eligible to join this lawsuit and receive an equitable portion of any resulting settlement or verdict. You do not have to hire an attorney or pay out-of-pocket legal fees. Milberg is representing all class members on a contingency basis.
How Session Replay Works
Session replay is an analytics tool that reproduces a user’s interactions on a website or mobile app, including their clicks, keystrokes, mouse movements, and page scrolls. It then creates a video-like recording of these actions showing what the user did while on the webpage or app.
Zillow’s use of session replay code is the electronic equivalent of ‘looking over the shoulder’ of each visitor to the Zillow website for the entire duration of their website interaction.
The information obtained from session replay enables marketers and developers to gain valuable insights into the user experience. However, session replay can also reveal users’ sensitive personal information, such as their medical conditions, credit card numbers, and Social Security numbers. In addition, personal data captured by session replay may expose users to data breaches, identity theft, and online scams.
Session replay code is developed by third party vendors and sold to companies that deploy the code on their website and/or app. Tech blogger Eric Ravenscraft says that when session replay is deployed, “Users aren’t just sharing data with the site they’re on…but also with an analytics service that may be watching over their shoulder.”
Lawsuit: Zillow Deploys Session Replay Code on Website
Milberg’s lawsuit accuses Zillow of embedding session replay codes on its website, without the knowledge and consent of website users. The lawsuit says that one of the codes deployed by Zillow is named Clarity, owned and operated by Microsoft.
As detailed in the lawsuit, when an online user visits the Zillow website, their website actions are captured by the session replay code and sent to a session replay provider such as Microsoft. For example, if a user visits Zillow.com and views a particular real estate listing, or enters a piece of personal information, the code captures this data.
Within milliseconds of a website user taking an action on the Zillow website, a packet of response data is sent to a session replay provider like Microsoft. Zillow uses logs of these actions to improve the user experience on its website and provide targeted real estate advertising. But the individuals browsing Zillow.com have no idea that their information is being intercepted and recorded.
Allegations and Proposed Class
Zillow is accused of violating the Illinois Eavesdropping Act and the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. Their conduct “constitutes an invasion of the privacy rights of website users” and is “the electronic equivalent of ‘looking over the shoulder’ of each visitor to the Zillow website for the entire duration of their website interaction,” states Milberg’s complaint.
“Unbeknownst to the millions of individuals perusing Zillow’s real estate listings, Zillow knowingly directs Session Replay Providers to embed various Session Replay Codes on its website to track and analyze website user interactions with www.zillow.com. Because the Session Replay Providers are unknown eavesdroppers to visitors to www.zillow.com, they are not parties to website visitors’ Website Communications with Zillow.”
The lead plaintiffs in the Zillow lawsuit are Illinois residents who visited Zillow.com and fell victim to Zillow’s unlawful digital eavesdropping scheme. They seek to establish the following class:
All natural persons in the State of Illinois whose Website Communications were captured through the use of Session Replay Code embedded in www.zillow.com.
Milberg is dedicated to protecting online privacy rights, which are a growing concern to most Americans. Our class action attorneys file data breach, cybersecurity, and biometric data lawsuits that seek to change data security practices and safeguard consumers’ personal data.
If you believe that your privacy rights were infringed, contact Milberg to discuss your legal options.