Lawsuit targets advertiser over sneaky HTML5 pseudo-cookies
A New York-based mobile-web advertising company was hit Wednesday with a proposed class action lawsuit over its use of an HTML5 trick to track iPhone and iPad users across a number of websites, in what is believed to be the first privacy lawsuit of its kind in the mobile space.
The company, Ringleader Digital, uses HTML5’s client-side database storage capability as a substitute for the traditional cookie tracking employed by all major online ad companies. Mobile Safari users visiting sites with Ringleader ads are assigned a globally unique ID number which is stored by the browser, and recalled by Ringleader whenever they revisit.
But the tracker, labeled RLDGUID, does not go away when one clears cookies from the browser. Ars Technica reported last week that users savvy enough to find and delete the database have found it returning mysteriously with the same ID number as before—a result the lawyers suing Ringleader say they’ve reproduced.
“You can’t get rid of that database,” says Majed Nachawati, a Dallas attorney behind the Ringleader lawsuit. “You’re left with this database tracking you and your phone and your viewing habits on the net, which is a violation of federal privacy laws.”