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Newport men suing owners of pornographic website

December 08, 2010

Two Newport Beach men have filed a class-action lawsuit against the owners of YouPorn, a website that streams adult movies over the Internet, accusing the site of searching through a user's web browser history to secretly collect data on what other sites that person has visited.

The plaintiffs, David Pitner and Jared Reagan, accuse YouPorn's parent company, Midstream Media, of intentionally using "history sniffing" or "history hijacking" techniques to "capture personal information from unsuspecting users of its websites ... without their knowledge or consent," according to the lawsuit.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana on Friday, describes YouPorn as the "61st most popular website in the world" and as "a resource for people who want to view and share free pornographic media."

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Midstream Media does not disclose collecting data from a user's Web browser history in its user terms and conditions, the suit said. Without telling its users, Midstream, based in the Netherlands, inserted hidden links on its web pages to other pornographic websites, the complaint said.

The user's Web browser would then identify the hidden links as websites which the user had visited or not — most browsers identify visited links and unvisited links in different colors, which a Javascript function could pick up on, the court documents said.

The method was "essentially tricking plaintiffs' browsers into providing information from plaintiffs' web history files" without permission, according to the suit.

Officials at Midstream were unavailable for comment Tuesday afternoon, as were Pitner's and Reagan's lawyers.

Forbes magazine has reported that YouPorn stopped using the alleged "history sniffing" tactics Nov. 30.

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