Have you ever looked up a product online or liked it on a social media platform? Then, you suddenly see the same product everywhere you look. You see the product on your Facebook page, and it pops up on your Instagram feed. You feel like someone is looking over your shoulder. What the heck is happening? Websites use your browsing and searching habits to put the products you’ve searched for in front of you as often as possible. Some would say that’s a bit creepy. I would have to agree.
Did you know that Zillow might be illegally looking over your shoulder while you browse their website? Each time you look at a house for sale on Zillow, click on the photo gallery, open the down payment assistance link, etc., they are recording and analyzing all of it. There’s a new lawsuit fighting back against this invasion of privacy, and Zillow could be in deep trouble.
Natalie Perkins of Washington, and Kenneth Hassan, of Pennsylvania, filed a class action lawsuit against Zillow on 9/11/22. They are claiming that Zillow is violating wiretapping laws. This claim stems from Zillow using computer code to record how consumers interact with its website, then recreating the interactions and sharing them with third parties, like Microsoft. Why would Zillow want to do that?
The lawsuit suggests that how Zillow and third parties use consumer information could expose people to identity theft.
The state of Washington, where one plaintiff lives, has wiretapping laws. The plaintiff states that the recording and video reproduction of the consumer’s clicks, taps, scrolling, mouse movements, page visits, etc., violates these laws.
In addition to this recent lawsuit, other cases exist where Zillow was sued for similar reasons. Replay code technology was the center of another lawsuit filed by a plaintiff from Pennsylvania. He also sued Lowe’s and Expedia for similar consumer privacy violations and wiretapping laws.
While consumer data collection is essential to the success of businesses, many consumers are unaware of how their online interactions are being recorded and reconstructed into video. It could be a very long time before we see the outcome of this lawsuit against Zillow. In the meantime, other companies might reconsider how they gather data from consumers to avoid litigation. Beware who's looking over your shoulder as you browse online. 👀