UPDATED 15:20 EST / AUGUST 22 2022

BIG DATA

Oracle faces privacy lawsuit over data collection practices

Oracle Corp. is facing a new privacy lawsuit in California over its data collection practices, TechCrunch reported today.

The lawsuit was filed on Friday with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The plaintiffs are Johnny Ryan, a senior fellow at the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, Michael Katz-Lacabe, the director of research at the Center for Human Rights and Privacy, and Jennifer Golbeck, a University of Maryland associate computer science professor. 

The lawsuit was filed as a class-action complaint, meaning that the number of individuals involved in the litigation could increase significantly down the line. 

Oracle provides a collection of cloud-based marketing tools as part of its product portfolio. Some of the company’s marketing tools provide access to consumer data that brands use to optimize their advertising campaigns, as well as measure ads’ effectiveness. The newly filed lawsuit accuses Oracle of collecting the consumer data that it provides to brands in an unlawful manner.

Oracle’s data collection practices “amount to a deliberate and purposeful surveillance of the general population via their digital and online existence,” the lawsuit states. Oracle, the plaintiffs continue, collects and indefinitely stores information on hundreds of millions of individuals.

The company allegedly collects consumer data in several ways. According to the lawsuit, Oracle gathers data using JavaScript code embedded in websites, cookies and tracking pixels, a technology that has a similar function as cookies but can’t be easily disabled. Oracle also gathers information through AddThis, a popular website plugin that the company acquired in 2016.

AddThis is one of several companies that Oracle has bought over the past decade to grow its marketing business. The company reportedly paid more than $1.2 billion in 2015 to acquire Datalogix Holdings Inc., a marketing analytics provider. According to the lawsuit, Datalogix’s technology enables Oracle to collect significant amounts of data about consumer purchases at brick-and-mortar stores.

Oracle allegedly enriches the data that it collects through its marketing tools with information purchased from third parties. “The personal information Oracle amasses through its tracking technologies together with the personal information collected by third parties includes billions of data points on more than 300 million users, or over 80% of the entire U.S. population,” the lawsuit states.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to permanently prevent Oracle from “intercepting, tracking, collecting, or compiling the personal information” of individuals represented by the class-action lawsuit. Additionally, the lawsuit argues that affected individuals should be granted damages as well as “other relief as the Court deems appropriate.”

Photo: Oracle

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