Privacy Lawsuit Filed Against Pharmatrak

An Irvine, California man has filed suit against a high-tech firm that provides pharmaceutical companies with the capability to monitor their Web site users' medical interests and needs.

In the suit filed Aug. 17 in a federal court in Manhattan, Rob Barring alleges that Boston-based Pharmatrak Inc. is violating the Electronics Communications Privacy Act with the use of cookies to monitor Web usage. Cookies are small bits of information that can be placed onto the hard drive of a Web site visitor. They often are used to track a user's Web surfing habits.

In Pharmatrak's case, Barring alleges that the company is using cookies to develop user profiles of visitors to pharmaceutical companies' Web sites.

Pharmatrak works with 11 pharmaceutical companies, such as SmithKline Beecham PLC, Glaxo Wellcome PLC and Pfizer Inc.

Pharmatrak could not be reached for comment. A similar suit also was filed last week against Pharmatrak in Boston.

Barring's suit seeks to require the defendants in the case to destroy the information they have gathered from Web site visitors. Pfizer also is named in the suit, as Barring's lawsuit states he had visited the company's Web site. A Pfizer spokesman could not be reached for comment.

At its Web site, Pharmatrak states that it uses cookies responsibly and can maintain a Web site visitor's privacy. Pharmatrak also states that it does not gather any personal data. Pharmatrak is a subsidiary of Glocal Communications Ltd.

Pharmatrak, in Boston, can be reached at +1-617-956-2676 or at http://www.pharmatrak.com/.

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