NEWS4 May 2011

Specific Media sees Flash cookie lawsuit dismissed

Legal North America

US— A complaint brought against online ad network Specific Media over the alleged use of Flash cookies to track web users’ browsing habits without permission has been dismissed.

In reaching his decision District Judge George Wu said the web users who brought the case had failed to show that they suffered any real harm from Specific Media’s alleged actions.

The company’s general counsel Drew Bordages said: “We’re very pleased with the court’s decision to dismiss the claims outright. Specific Media has consistently been at the forefront of protecting consumer privacy online, and the company continues to be a leader in shaping industry regulations and best practices.”

Specific Media was one of a number of companies sued over the alleged use of Flash cookies – technically known as Flash local shared objects – to collect personally identifying information without permission, and to use those Flash cookies to respawn browser, or HTML, cookies that had been deleted by users. Two other companies, Quantcast and Clearspring, agreed to settle claims in December but deny any wrongdoing.

The lawsuits followed the release of a paper by Berkeley University researchers which explained how Flash cookies could be used to ‘respawn’ previously deleted HTTP cookies so as to continue tracking web users.