Redfin and Zillow logos and a person on a laptop looking at a home search site
Illustration by Lanette Behiry/Real Estate News; Shutterstock

Zillow and Redfin accused of violating user privacy 

A California lawsuit alleges that the home search portals used tracking technology to gather and share data without consent.

June 29, 2024
2 minutes

Zillow and Redfin have been hit with data privacy lawsuits that claim the companies are using technology to track what video content their site users watch — and are then sharing that data with third parties.

The details: The two separate cases were filed June 25 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California by San Diego resident Guillermo Mata. Mata alleges both companies disclosed personally identifiable information to third parties, including Reddit, Meta (parent company of Facebook and Instagram), Microsoft, Snap and Alphabet (parent of Google).

The data was allegedly collected using tracking pixels and other third-party tracking technology in violation of the Video Privacy Protection Act, according to the complaint. The plaintiff cited Zillow's video walkthroughs of homes, included on some property listings, as a source of user tracking.

The tracking pixels document which homes a person has toured and send that information to third parties, "all without the subscribers' written consent," the filing states.

The court documents argue that Zillow and Redfin knowingly tracked users for advertising purposes and to increase profits.

As an example, the court documents described how Mata's Facebook profile showed which content he had viewed on the Zillow and Redfin websites on approximately 20 occasions.

The Video Privacy Protection Act dates back to President Ronald Reagan's nomination of Judge Robert Bork to the Supreme Court in 1987. During the confirmation process, a movie rental store shared his rental history, prompting Congress to pass the act.

The case has the potential to become a class action that would include everyone in the U.S. with a Zillow or Redfin account who has viewed a video walkthrough.

What Zillow had to say: When reached for comment, a Zillow spokesperson said, "We are aware of the suit that's been filed and believe these claims are without merit. We will respond accordingly."

Real Estate News has also reached out to Redfin for comment.

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