During a recent investigation into how a drug-trial recruitment
company called Acurian Health tracks down people who look online
for information about their medical conditions, we discovered
NaviStone’s code on sites run by Acurian, Quicken Loans, a
continuing education center, a clothing store for plus-sized
sites were transmitting information from people as soon as they
typed or auto-filled it into an online form. That way, the company
would have it even if those people immediately changed their minds
and closed the page. […]
We decided to test how the code works by pretending to shop on
sites that use it and then browsing away without finalizing the
purchase. Three sites — hardware site Rockler.com, gift site
CollectionsEtc.com, and clothing site BostonProper.com — sent us
emails about items we’d left in our shopping carts using the email
addresses we’d typed onto the site but had not formally submitted.
Although Gizmodo was able to see the email address information
being sent to Navistone, the company said that it was not
responsible for those emails.
They weren’t responsible for sending the emails, but they were responsible for the email addresses being sent to those websites in the first place. Sending form data surreptitiously is morally wrong, and everyone knows it.