Zillow Sued for "Wiretapping" Web Visitors

September 15, 2022
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Zillow has been sued by two of its website visitors in a class action lawsuit that alleges the portal illegally wiretapped them online.

The lawsuit claims Zillow tracks its users' web activity in a way that amounts to illegal wiretapping—via third party tools that track users' mouse movements and keystrokes.

The tool, supplied by Microsoft (also named as a defendant in the case), then creates a video replay that Zillow can analyse inhouse.

The complainants allege that this is the electronic equivalent of "looking over the shoulder" of each visitor to the Zillow website.

The lawsuit suggests that:

"[This] conduct is highly offensive and objectionable to a reasonable person and constitutes an egregious breach of the social norms underlying the right to privacy."

A spokesperson for Zillow said the company is reviewing the lawsuit and that the company takes its users privacy and security "very seriously".

A Microsoft spokesperson said the company was "looking into" the lawsuit, but made no further comment.

Zillow is also involved in a nearly identical lawsuit in Pennsylvania, alleging that three companies are illegally using session replays to track and record consumers' interactions with their websites. The other defendants in the case are Lowe's and Expedia Group.

The results of each of these lawsuits will have implications for companies using "tracking" software to conduct user research, which could lead to "opt-in" mandates similar to GDPR changes in recent years.

Zillow recently had a different lawsuit thrown out by a federal district court after an antitrust case was rejected for the second time.

September 15, 2022
Harvey is an experienced property journalist and copywriter. He has written about the property industry since 2015, starting at The Property Franchise Group in the UK, before moving to Spain to work for Spotahome. He has blogged for the private rented sector, ghostwritten for UK property experts and written case studies for franchise owners around the UK. Harvey joined Online Marketplaces as a News Editor in 2022.

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