May 5, 2000 4:40 AM PDT

Putting Amazon's privacy trial on the calendar

Amazon.com's legal battle with privacy plaintiffs is scheduled for trial almost a year and a half from now.

It faces five separate class-action suits filed on grounds of electronic privacy invasion. The U.S. District Court in Seattle yesterday heard arguments to certify the plaintiffs as classes--a move Amazon opposes, according to the plaintiffs' lawyers.

The company has refused to comment on the litigation.

Judge Marsha Peckman did not rule on the certification and did not indicate when she would issue a ruling.

But she scheduled Amazon's privacy trial for Oct. 26, 2001.

Amazon stands accused of invasion of privacy under Washington state law and of violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, both federal laws. The accusations stem from its implementation of technology acquired along with Alexa Internet one year ago.

Alexa makes software that monitors Web traffic patterns. Amazon has transformed that technology into a shopping comparison tool dubbed zBubbles.

Claims that Alexa was collecting personal information, including names and physical addresses, about individuals sparked a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission and an FTC probe.

Those claims are at the root of the lawsuits.

 

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