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Abstract

In this bench memo, the high court is asked to decide two issues: whether the information disseminated by defendant invaded plaintiff's privacy as defined by the Restatement (Second) of Torts governing public disclosure of private facts; and whether defendant's use of cookie technology to gather the information displayed about plaintiff constituted an invasion of her privacy. Defendant provides a commercial online job search services that provides employment assistance to online users. In return of the free service, users are required to create a "profile" with personal identifying information such as name, phone number, address and e-mail. At the bottom of the interactive application form, a "I agree" box pre-checked appears beside the company's "Privacy Preferences." Plaintiff, currently employed by another company, completed one of Defendant's online application forms. Her immediate supervisor at work happened to view plaintiff's online profile while using his AOL account at home. Although defendant did not disclose any personal information, plaintiff's supervisor suspected the profit to belong to plaintiff. Consequently, her supervisor discharged her from work. After the discharge, plaintiff revisited her profile on defendant's Web site and found an additional "interests" section on his profile listing plaintiff's online usage. Plaintiff then sued defendant for invasion of privacy. In affirming or reversing the court of appeal's decision, the court needs to entertain its appetite for cookies: text files, stored in users' computers, that contain users' information in many different areas. There are permanent and temporary cookies. Hence, the court has to answer whether the kind of information gathered by the defendant in offering its free services to users is invasion of plaintiff's privacy. In addition, what are the legal ramifications of such use of cookies in invasion of plaintiff's privacy of her online usage and preferences.