Shopify Sued Over Collection of Online Shoppers’ Personal Information

A California consumer has sued Shopify Inc. and Shopify (USA) Inc. (collectively, Shopify) over allegations that the e-commerce platform does not inform customers who use payment forms on merchant websites that it is collecting their information and tracking consumer behavior across more than one million websites. Monday’s Northern District of California complaint alleges that Shopify’s surreptitious conduct violates consumer rights protected by the California Constitution and state and common law.

The filing explains that Shopify Inc. is a Canadian e-commerce platform that facilitates third-party merchant transactions; its customers are typically merchants who operate websites and mobile applications. To those customers, Shopify provides comprehensive documentation, “describing how to integrate payment forms into their websites and applications using the Shopify code, including how to omit Shopify branding such that the form appears to the consumer to belong to the merchant’s website,” the complaint says.

The suit contends that consumers using merchant websites have a reasonable expectation that they are communicating directly with the merchant, and the merchant alone. An online shopper has “no idea” that Shopify will collect, store, and evaluate their sensitive communications and information, the complaint says.

Specifically, Shopify obtains personally identifying information like customer name, address, phone number, e-mail, credit card details, IP addresses, the type of browser used, and the items purchased from the merchant’s website. In addition, the complaint contends, Shopify’s software code “surreptitiously installs tracking cookies on consumers’ computers and mobile devices.” This reportedly enables Shopify to identify a particular consumer and track their activities across its entire merchant network, enabling Shopify to gather further data, like the number of declined cards used with Shopify merchants and how long ago one of the consumer’s cards was last declined.

The complaint states several claims for invasion of privacy and violations of the California Computer Data Access and Fraud Act and Unfair Competition Law. The plaintiff seeks to certify a class of similarly situated individuals, namely those who submitted payment information via Shopify’s software while located in California between Aug. 13, 2017 and the present. The consumer and putative class request damages, restitution, an award of their attorneys’ fees and costs, and injunctive relief.  

The plaintiff is represented by Gutride Safier LLP.