User claims Amazon collected private information

The online retailer and its Alexa Internet unit are being sued by an user, who claims Alexa secretly intercepted personal information and sent it to Amazon.

Amazon.com and its Alexa Internet unit are being sued by an user, who claims Alexa secretly intercepted personal information and sent it to the online retailer.

In a suit filed today in San Francisco, plaintiff Joel D. Newby, who says he has used Alexa software since 1998, claims the San Francisco-based company sent confidential information to Amazon, which bought Alexa last April, without his consent.

The suit requests class-action status. It seeks $1,000 per class member in damages, plus attorneys' fees and profits made by the companies as a result of violating laws. The class members could number in the millions, the suit says.

A representative for Seattle-based Amazon, which sells books and other products through its Web site, referred questions about the lawsuit to Alexa Internet. Alexa officials weren't immediately available to comment.

The suit claims that Newby and others weren't told their personal information would be collected when they used Alexa's software, available through its Web site, to find out information about other Web sites they visited.

Internet software maker Macromedia was the target of similar complaints last year, the suit says. When the problem was brought to that company's attention, it developed a software patch so personal information was no longer gathered.

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