Friday, March 20, 2009

Traverse Internet Law Federal Court Report: February 2009 Hacking Lawsuits

The facts are unproven allegations of the Plaintiff and all commentary is based upon the allegations, the truthfulness and accuracy of which are likely in dispute.

FILED: 2/19/2009

This case appears to me to be a classic example of a preemptive strike. It appears that the Defendant is claiming copyright infringement by the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff’s allegations under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which is the federal hacking statute, seem to relate to relatively widespread practices of data tracking and extraction of information for “e-havioral” purposes. This is a hot area for litigation.

Universal Electronics is an industry leader in the design, development, and manufacture of remote control technology. Defendant Warren Communications News, Inc. publishes news on the telecommunications, broadcasting, Internet, and consumer electronic industries. The Plaintiff alleges that it subscribed to emails sent by the Defendant and the Defendant embedded tracking and intercepting code into each email. Plaintiff then explains that it included embedded automated devices used to extract information from the Plaintiff’s computers after the email was opened and the programs automatically installed.

Plaintiff has sued for a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, violation of the Stored Communications Act, Computer Data Access and Fraud Act, California computer data access and fraud violations, California Business and Professions Code violations, California common law invasion of privacy, and trespass to channels. Interestingly, the Plaintiff also sues for declaratory judgment that it is not infringing on the copyright of the Defendant. In addition to the declaratory judgment and injunctive relief, Plaintiff requests an award of compensatory and punitive damages, and an award of attorneys’ fees and costs. Traverse Internet Law Cross-Reference Number 1291.