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DECISIONS DECISIONS n INTERNET LAW ruling that the consent exception to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act did not apply, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said on May 9 that an Internet company engaged by a group of pharmaceutical companies to collect information about visitors to their Web sites had intercepted communications, in violation of the act. In re Pharmatrak Inc. Privacy Litigation, Blumofe v. Pharmatrak Inc., No. 02-2138. The Internet company, Pharmatrak Inc., had told the pharmaceutical makers that included Pfizer, American Home Products and SmithKline Beecham, that its “NETcompare” service would record only the pages a user viewed at the company sites, time spent on a page, the path through the site, the visitor’s IP address and the page viewed immediately prior to entering. In a class action filed by visitors to the sites, a Massachusetts federal court granted summary judgment for Pharmatrak because the drug companies had agreed to the monitoring of their communications with the class members when they visited, triggering the consent exception to the act. Disagreeing, the 1st Circuit noted that information found on Pharmatrak’s servers about some users included names, phone numbers, birth dates, occupations, education levels and other information. Reversing and remanding, the circuit court directed the lower court to determine whether other elements of the act were met, such as intent.

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