WideOpenWest is facing allegations in a federal court that it conspired with Internet advertising company NebuAd to use spyware to monitor and profile its subscribers in order to send them advertisements.
WOW, the nation’s 12th-largest MSO, allegedly used spyware to “inject advertisements into the Web pages users visited, transmit code that caused undeletable tracking cookies to be installed on users' computers, and forge the 'return addresses' of user communications so their tampering would escape the detection of users' privacy and security controls," according to the class-action suit that was quoted in a story today by Courthouse News Services.
The class-action suit, which names WideOpenWest Finance as its only defendant and was filed in a Chicago Federal Court, also claims:
- WOW gave NebuAd unlimited access to the personal information of at least 333,000 people – including credit reports, political affiliations, job searches and rental selections – based on their Internet search preferences.
- WOW lied to Congress in August 2008 when it said its agreement with NebuAd didn’t include NebuAd using customer information to gain access to customers’ phone numbers and addresses.
- WOW lied to its own subscribers when it said it didn’t share personal information with advertisers.
The suit wants WOW to turn over the money it has received from NebuAd for distribution in the class-action suit, to delete all stored personal information, and to be responsible for restitution and damages for invasion of privacy, unjust enrichment, eavesdropping and violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, according to the Courthouse News Service story.