A proposed class action alleges Papa John’s International has unlawfully “wiretapped” consumers’ electronic communications via “session replay” software installed on PapaJohns.com.
The 21-page lawsuit alleges the pizza chain has used what amounts essentially to “spyware” to track the online actions of those who visit its website. Per the case, the session replay software on PapaJohns.com tracks information about how visitors use the site—including their mouse movements and clicks, keystrokes, search items, inputted text, and pages and content viewed—“in a manner that [is] undetectable to them.”
Unlike other website analytics tools, session replay software can record and play back each individual browsing session, “as if someone is looking over Plaintiff’s or a Class Members’ shoulder when visiting Defendant’s website,” and even allows the defendant to view consumers’ visits to the site in real time, the complaint alleges.
Per the case, Papa John’s has violated both the federal Wiretap Act and California Invasion of Privacy Act by intercepting and recording consumers’ online communications without their knowledge or consent.
The lawsuit alleges that Papa John’s use of session replay software “far exceeds the stated purpose” of detecting broken website features, and allows the defendant to gather enough information about consumers so as to “create a detailed profile” for each PapaJohns.com visitor. As the suit tells it, the software goes far beyond recording a user’s IP address, and collects “personalized and sensitive information” about consumers’ browsing activity and habits to be used for Papa John’s “business development purposes.”
“Defendant’s use of ‘session replay’ spyware to intercept Plaintiff’s electronic communications was not instrumental or necessary to Defendant’s provision of any of its goods or services,” the complaint contends. “Rather, the level and detail of information surreptitiously collected by Defendant indicates that the only purpose was to gain an unlawful understanding of the habits and preferences of users to its websites, and the information collected was solely for Defendant’s own benefit.”
According to the suit, consumers who visited PapaJohns.com “reasonably believed” that their interactions with the website would be private, not recorded and monitored in real time. Instead, the case says, Papa John’s used “sophisticated computer software” to intercept and track the individuals’ electronic communications without their knowledge or consent, and thereby violated their privacy rights under federal and state law.
The lawsuit looks to represent anyone in the United States whose communications were intercepted by Papa John’s or its agents.
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