Zillow Group, Inc. faces two proposed class action lawsuits over its alleged use of session replay software to track consumers’ interactions with the real estate platform’s website.
The lawsuits, filed on September 8 and 19, claim Zillow has violated privacy laws in Illinois and Pennsylvania by failing to obtain consent before tracking consumers’ activities on Zillow.com.
Per the cases, Zillow has used session replay software from third-party vendors such as Microsoft to capture videos of unwitting users’ mouse movements, clicks, keystrokes, inputted text, pages viewed and other electronic communications, without website visitors ever knowing that they are essentially being watched.
“Zillow’s procurement of the Session Replay Providers to secretly deploy the Session Replay Code results in the electronic equivalent of ‘looking over the shoulder’ of each visitor to the Zillow website for the entire duration of their website interaction,” the similarly worded complaints state.
The lawsuits argue that although session replay software can be used “for some legitimate purposes,” such as detecting broken website features and improving user experience, the collection of the contents of the communications between consumers and the websites they visit “goes well beyond normal website analytics.” From the complaints:
“Unlike other online advertising tools, Session Replay Code allows a website to capture and record nearly every action a website visitor takes while visiting the website, including actions that reveal the visitor’s personal or private sensitive data, sometimes even when the visitor does not intend to submit the data to the website operator, or has not finished submitting the data to the website operator.”
The cases claim Zillow uses the information collected from users not only to improve its website but to provide targeted real estate advertisements to site visitors, all without obtaining written consent.
The lawsuit out of Pennsylvania alleges that Zillow’s use of Microsoft’s Clarity session replay software, among others, is essentially a wiretap that violates state law.
The case out of Illinois claims Zillow has unlawfully shared private user information with third-party session replay software providers, who are “unknown eavesdroppers” to visitors’ communications with Zillow.com. Moreover, the company has knowingly used and benefited from the intercepted communications in violation of Illinois law, the suit alleges.
The two suits look to cover anyone in Pennsylvania or Illinois whose website communications were captured through the use of session replay software embedded in Zillow.com.
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