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Suit digs into Comcast's data collection

The cable giant's privacy woes earlier this year lead to a lawsuit that alleges the company violated its customers' privacy by storing detailed information on their Web surfing habits.

Cable giant Comcast has become the target of a lawsuit alleging the company violated consumer privacy by tracking Web habits.

The suit, filed by Michigan law firm Goren & Goren, seeks class-action status on behalf of people whose Web usage was monitored by Comcast earlier this year.

"This is clearly an important issue," attorney Steven Goren said. "If we lose this, they will be able to monitor and, presumably, sell information about where people go on the Internet."

The company came under fire in February for storing detailed information about people's Web surfing habits, including the sites they visited. Although Comcast said the data was only stored in aggregate and not tied to individuals, civil liberties groups, privacy advocates and some lawmakers were outraged.

Comcast eventually succumbed to public pressure and stopped storing the data after doing so for about six weeks. The company Web site still prominently displays a statement from Comcast cable division President Stephen Burke, saying it will no longer store the information, in an effort to reassure customers.

The class-action suit, filed May 17 in U.S. District Court in Michigan, claims the company's data collection practices violated the Cable TV Privacy Act of 1984. Plaintiffs are seeking up to $1,000 for each consumer whose data was tracked.

Comcast has about a million customers, but data apparently was only being collected by customers in a few regions, said Goren, who's not sure yet how many people would be covered by the suit.

Comcast did not immediately return requests for comment.