LA Times Faces Lawsuit Over Alleged Illegal Tracking of Visitors

LA Times accused of illegal website tracking

California Woman Claims LA Times Website Violated Privacy Law by Collecting Readers’ IP Addresses Without Consent

A California woman says the LA Times is breaking news and breaking the law with its website, LATimes.com. 

Plaintiff Taliah Mirmalek filed a proposed class action lawsuit against Los Angeles Times Communications LLC — which owns and operates the website — on March 22 in a California court, alleging the company is violating the California Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA). 

According to the lawsuit, whenever users visit the news website, the LA Times causes three trackers—TripleLift Tracker, GumGum Tracker, and Audiencerate Tracker—to be installed on the visitors’ internet browsers. Mirmalek says the company then illegally uses these trackers to collect people’s IP addresses, and craft marketing and targeted ads for profit.

No consent asked for, no consent given

Mirmalek says she has visited the LA Times new website multiple times since February 2023, and had the trackers covertly installed on her browser as a result. 

She says the tracking companies TripleLift, GumGum, and Audiencerate used the information collected by the website code to analyze data and marketing campaigns, conduct targeted advertising and “ultimately boost the LA Times’ and advertisers’ revenue.” 

However, Mirmalek says she did not provide her consent for the LA Times to install or use the trackers on her browser, as required by CIPA, she says.

“Plaintiff’s privacy, therefore, was invaded by Defendant’s violations of CIPA,” the lawsuit states. 

Mirmalek says the LA Times has incorporated the code of the trackers into its website since at least February 2023, if not earlier. She says this may have impacted millions, with the news company boasting “more than 40 million unique visitors monthly.”

What is CIPA?

The CIPA law was enacted to protect the privacy rights of California citizens. 

According to the lawsuit, the trackers that LATimes.com installs on website visitors’ browsers violate the law because they operate as “pen registers.” In summary, a pen register is a device that records outgoing signal or address information. 

For example, if a user sends an email, a “pen register” might record the email address it was sent from, the lawsuit explains. CIPA bans anyone from installing a pen register without a court order, it adds. 

A wave of pen register lawsuits

The LA Times proposed class action follows a wave of similar lawsuits alleging companies have violated the CIPA through using pen registers. In March, U.S. News & World Report was hit with a similar proposed class action lawsuit for allegedly capturing visitors’ IP addresses without their permission.

Since November, California residents have brought more than 50 class actions in California state courts against a number of website operators alleging they violated the state law by installing pen register software, Bloomberg reports. Other recent defendants include retailers Anine Bing Corp., Stitch Fix Inc. and Primer Labs Inc.

In this case, Mirmalek seeks to represent a class of California residents who accessed the LATimes.com website in California and had their IP address collected by any of the trackers.

She’s seeking certification of the class action, damages of $5,000 per person, per violation of the law, interest, fees and a jury trial. 

The plaintiff and proposed class is represented by Emily A. Horne and L. Timothy Fisher of Bursor & Fisher P.A. 

The LA Times tracking class action lawsuit is Mirmalek et al., v. Los Angeles Times Communications LLC, Case No. 3:24-cv-01797 in the Superior Court for the State of California.

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