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LOS ANGELES - A class action lawsuit filed July 20 alleges that Spokeo.com publishes false and misleading personal information about millions of people without appropriate notice or consent (Thomas Robins v. Spokeo, Inc., No. 2:10cv5306, C.D. Calif.).
The lawsuit alleges that Spokeo aggregates data from many online and offline sources - some known and many unknown - and publishes the data online, in violation of the federal Fair Credit and Reporting Act. Spokeo allows Internet users to search for anyone by name, e-mail address or phone number. According to the complaint, Spokeo provides searchers with in-depth consumer reports, including that person's address, marital status, age, occupation, wealth level and a credit/economic health estimate. The suit further alleges that Spokeo makes much of this information available for free, but reserves the most detailed and personal information for paid subscribers.
While Spokeo markets itself as a people-based search engine, the suit alleges that Spokeo is really a Web 2.0-style consumer reporting agency, subject to the same rules and regulations as traditional consumer reporting agencies. The suit further alleges that Spokeo has marketed its paid subscriptions to employers, law enforcement agencies and persons performing background checks.
The lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in the Central District of California, is brought by Tom Robins of the greater Washington, D.C., area. According to the suit, Spokeo publishes largely inaccurate and false information about him and has marketed this information to employers at a time when he is seeking employment.
The class action seeks injunctive relief and monetary damages for violating the FCRA.
The plaintiffs are represented by Michael Aschenbrener and Benjamin Richman of Edelson McGuire LLC. Edelson McGuire is a class action firm that focuses on Internet, technology, privacy, banking and consumer issues and has attorneys in Illinois, New York, California and Florida.
Download the complaint.