California Court Finds Unfair Information Use

A California Court is considering action between two individuals (“Plaintiffs”) and a media company (“Defendant”), alleging privacy violations.

The Plaintiffs alleged that the Defendant collects both public and non-public information about millions of people. They then create cradle-to-grave dossiers on each person. Some of the information collected includes:

  • Names
  • Photos
  • Criminal history
  • Relatives
  • Associates
  • Financial information
  • Employment information

The Defendant pulls this information from publicly available social networks, blogs, and chat rooms. They also use third-party data brokers and law enforcement agencies. By using these agencies, they are able to get information not available to the general public including:

  • Live cell phone records
  • Location data from billions of licence plate detections
  • Real-time booking information from thousands of facilities
  • Millions of historical arrest records and intake photos

The Defendant then sells this information to their customers without the knowledge or consent of the people whose data they have collected. They argue that the display of the Plaintiffs’ name or likeness in third-party content does not constitute use of the Plaintiffs’ identity for purposes of a right of publicity claim.

The CCPA states that consumers have the right, at any time, to direct a business to not sell their personal information. The Defendant argued that its conduct cannot be unfair because the CCPA allows it to sell Plaintiffs’ personal information if it provides a mechanism for consumers to opt out of such sales.

It was determined that the Defendant’s opt out mechanism does not necessarily mean that its unauthorized sale of Plaintiffs’ information was fair. When looking at the opt-out mechanism and whether it complied with CCPA it was determined that:

  • The tiny link at the bottom of its homepage provides no notice to consumers that the link exists
  • The company does not enable consumers who happen to find out about the link to easily make use of it
  • It was not easy for consumers to opt-out using minimal steps

It was also determined that the collection of separate pieces of information into a single dossier was a significant invasion of privacy, regardless of whether all the information was publicly available. So, it was concluded the Defendant failed to protect the name and likeness of individuals from unwarranted intrusion or exploitation which is the heart of the law of privacy.

Keeping on top of privacy laws can be overwhelming especially when so many new laws are being implemented. Value Privacy are here to ensure your data is up to standard and are being kept and processed correctly. Contact us for a free, confidential talk about how we can help keep your data up to regulation. 

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