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Summary:

Earlier today, GigaOM, along with a more than a dozen other companies, was hit by a class-action complaint making privacy-related claims about one of our vendors, KISSmetrics. GigaOM respects our users’ privacy, and we have suspended the use of the technology while we investigate the claims.

Earlier today, we, along with more than a dozen other companies, were hit by a class-action complaint making privacy-related claims. The suit relates to a browser technology allegedly used by one of our vendors, KISSmetrics. (Read the full complaint here. [PDF])

We want to assure our readers that the claims against GigaOM are based on misinformation. We are confident that they will be found to have no merit.

GigaOM respects our users’ privacy. Our relationship with our community comes first and foremost, and we would never do anything that violates that trust you have in us. Like most other companies on the Internet, we have to rely on outside vendors’ services to support our service and help us do a better job. As soon as we became aware of the concerns about KISSmetrics technology, we suspended the use of it on our site while we investigate the claims.

We know that you take your privacy seriously. We take it seriously, too. We will update you on significant developments here on GigaOM.

By Paul Walborsky, CEO, GigaOM

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  1. In my opinion, this is an example of PR handled properly. Even if GigaOm were found at fault I’m confident you guys A.) would not knowingly invade users’ privacy, and B.) likely do not have control over advertiser/vendor code.

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  2. If all this is true the lawsuit should only be directed to KISSmetrics and possibly Adobe; GigaOM did not retain any information. They are just trying to find deeper pockets than KISSmetrics. I would love to know how the defendants lost money because of this. In addition, I am pretty sure there is no law requiring services to only use cookies. Overall if KISSmetrics was shady then file a complaint against them and GigaOM and other websites will stop using their services.

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  3. It’s a shame GigaOm folded so easily on this issue.

    The fact that Kissmetrics used Etags is really not that big of a deal as compared to things big guys like Facebook (facial recognition) or Apple (location tracking) and others do (see data mining companies that buy background/address data from sketchy sources).

    GigaOm should have used this as an opportunity to point out that there are much more grave privacy concerns on the Internet that public is not aware than tracking codes that re-create cookies.

    Instead, GigaOm took the easy way out.

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    1. Bottom line though is that users should always be given a way to opt out of tracking – I’m sure Kissmetrics isn’t the only one doing this, but I hope this at least calls attention to such a shady practice.

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      1. Rob – I agree. I was just trying to point out that this privacy “offense” pales in comparison to really troubling stuff done by big companies like Facebook, Apple or all those data miners out there (think RapLeaf.com, Intelius.com, etc). Yes, Kissmetrics is in the wrong here; however, I would have loved GigaOm take this as an opportunity to put this into context and really shed light on a lot worse practices perpetuated by tech giants and other tech companies.

        Kissmetrics is not the main issue as far as privacy. Just take a data mining company like RapLeaf.com. Now we are talking about real privacy violations.

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  4. When you outsourced your site metrics to a third party did you also outsource your due dilligence?

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    1. Very disappointed with GigaOM; I’ll think twice before clicking on their articles going forward. That is unfortunate, because I used to seek them out before, had a lot of respect for Om. Sad really.

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  5. No spying or violations of trust, eh? In that case, why does every page of GigaOm contain Google spyware?

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  6. Om, I haven’t the time to waste on paranoia. The chicken-little-types will chirp. The rest of us who respect the quality of information, the standards of journalism that define this and all your sites – ain’t going elsewhere.

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  7. How does ANY legal authority take this as a serious lawsuit when they cannot take the time to SPELL correctly? Just on the first page, Richmond, Virgina and 1414 17th Avenune, Nashville.

    Why are ShoppyBag and Zedo NOT included in this lawsuit?

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  8. Not surprised to hear this site is being sued for disrespecting the privacy rights of it’s readers. The article that brought me here from Wired states Hulu and others were sued for a similar activity of using zombie cookies and had to pay over $2M for their bad behavior:

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  9. Huh? My read of the situation is that the users were capable of figuring out how the LSO’s were attacking their privacy but could not delete them? [Just type "Flash Cookies" in google, and it leads you to the page that helps delete them].

    Aside, now that Chrome seems to be enabling deletion of Flash Cookies, problem solved? http://www.imasuper.com/640/technology/chrome-adds-links-to-clear-adobe-cookies/

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  10. Andrew Lochart Thursday, August 4, 2011

    I wish that, in the name of full disclosure, you had mentioned that one of Kissmetrics’ investors is True Ventures, the VC that Om is a partner in.

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