SAN FRANCISCO – A federal court has dismissed a lawsuit filed by two New York men who purchased cellphones and claimed that a Verizon partner violated their privacy by showing ads based on browsing.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White, on the bench of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, issued an eight-page ruling on Dec. 17, granting a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Anthony Henson and William Cintron against Turn Inc., a partner of Verizon.
In his ruling, White dismissed all the allegations, including a claim of trespass to chattels, which is an intentional physical interference on personal property.
"Because the court finds there is no support for the allegation of harm to plaintiffs’ personal property, the court grants Turn’s motion to dismiss the claim for trespass to chattels," White said, adding that the plaintiffs could amend their complaints, to show that "the placement of the cookies caused substantial degradation to the functioning of their devices."
Henson and Citron sued Turn due to its targeted ads software, which allegedly tracked their internet traffic and displayed ads based on the plaintiffs' browsing.
As stated in the ruling, "Verizon partnered with Turn to implement such a targeted advertising program that uses Verizon’s Unique Identifier Header (UIDH) to help online advertisers deliver relevant advertisement to subscribers based upon the usage data from their mobile devices," and works as an "anonymous identifier" that Verizon adds to its internet.
The telecommunications company then provided to its partners with, per the ruling, "information about the market segments associated with the UIDHs for subscribers, which the partners then use to direct advertising campaigns to the specific audiences they are intended to reach."
Henson and Citron alleged that Turn violated their privacy by creating "zombie cookies," which consisted of temporary files that monitored their behavior on the web and apps in a surreptitious way, in which those cookies could not be detected nor removed.
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California case number 4:15-cv-01497-JSW