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Is YouPorn Wrongfully 'Sniffing' its Users?

By Laura Strachan, Esq. on December 08, 2010 8:50 AM

Before delving into charges that adult website YouPorn is wrongfully sniffing its users, let's first discuss just what is sniffing? "Sniffing," or "history sniffing," is a technique in which a website uses surreptitious technology to harvest information about websites a user has visited. The browsing history would ostensibly then be sold to better target marketing efforts.

In a complaint filed in federal court, two California plaintiffs seek unspecified damages from YouPorn, alleging that the website was sniffing their browser history in violation of cybercrime and consumer protection laws.

The YouPorn sniffing complaint alleges that the website improperly "peek[s] into the plaintiff's internet browsing history by exploiting a vulnerability in web browsers and failed to disclose that they were doing so to users," the Wall Street Journal reports.

In addition to damages, the suit seeks class action status and an injunction against the website to stop current and future sniffing. The two male plaintiffs essentially see the violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act as a form of unjust enrichment on the part of YouPorn; noting the increased marketing utility of private internet history of its users. Although it is unclear how the men discovered they were victims of the practice, the men believe they should have the ability to protect their privacy by opting out of such invasive modes of tracking.

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