US media giants sued over 'zombie cookies'

The privacy lawsuit against MTV, ABC and others centres on the use of tracking cookies that are revived even if the user has deleted them so that data can still be collected

Some of the US's largest media web sites — including ABC, ESPN, Hulu, MySpace and MTV — were named in a lawsuit filed on Friday,  accused of violating federal computer intrusion laws.

At issue is the use of "zombie cookies", a technology created by Quantcast, which is also named in the lawsuit. The technology, also known as Flash cookies, allows site owners to use a storage compartment in Adobe's Flash media player to recreate web-tracking files after they have been manually deleted by the user.

The suit, which was filed in US District Court in San Francisco, alleges that the practice of recreating the cookies violates federal eavesdropping and hacking laws. It seeks class-action status.

"The collection of data by defendants was wholesale and all-encompassing. Data passing from the user's computer was observed without discrimination as to the kind, type, nature, or sensitivity of the data. Like the privacy one loses from an airport security body scanner, everything passing through the consumer's internet connection was intercepted by defendants, claimed as their property, and traded as a commodity," the suit states.

For more on this story, see Big Media sites sued over use of "zombie cookies" on