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Consumer Reports Sharing of Subscriber Information Ohio Class Action

Consumer Reports, Inc. sells subscriptions to its magazine to consumers. But the complaint for this class action alleges that it has a second means of taking in money: selling information on its subscribers’ identities to data aggregators and similar parties. The complaint alleges that this violates Ohio’s statutes against misappropriation of names and likenesses.

The class for this action is all Ohio residents who, at any point during the applicable statute of limitations period, had their personas rented, exchanged, or otherwise disclosed, or whose personas were offered for rental, exchange, or disclosure on a mailing list rented or offered for sale by Consumer Reports, without their prior consent.

What information is Consumer Reports offering? The complaint alleges that it includes full names, the titles of publications they subscribe to, and demographic information, such as gender, ethnicity, and religion. The complaint claims it offers this information to “data aggregators, data appenders, data cooperatives, and other third parties without the consent of its customers.”

Furthermore, the complaint claims that Consumer Reports can rent, exchange, or otherwise disclose this information without actually selling it, which allows it to make money on the information by offering it over and over again.

The complaint alleges that the disclosure of such individualized information is “not only unlawful but … dangerous, because it allows malignant actors to target particular members of society.”

The complaint quotes Ohio’s misappropriation of name or likeness law as saying that “a person shall not use any aspect of an individual’s persona for a commercial purpose.” One of the ways it defines a commercial purpose is “the use of or reference to an aspect of an individual’s persona … [o]n or in connection with a place, product, merchandise, goods, services, or other commercial activities.”

The complaint alleges this is what happens in the sales of information about subscribers to data aggregators.

The data aggregators and others then add information on the consumers from other sources and pass all of this on to their own customers, which include consumer-facing businesses, non-profits seeking donations, political organizations wanting donations and votes, and volunteer efforts. The complaint also claims that the company’s “disclosure of sensitive and private information puts consumers, especially the more vulnerable members of society, at risk of serious harm from scammers.”

Consumer Reports does not ask permission from subscribers before passing on their data, and they are often unaware that their information is being disclosed to others. The complaint alleges, “Consumer Reports never requires the individual to read or affirmatively agree to any terms of service, privacy policy, or information-sharing policy.”

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Privacy

Most Recent Case Event

Consumer Reports Sharing of Subscriber Information Ohio Complaint

October 21, 2021

Consumer Reports, Inc. sells subscriptions to its magazine to consumers. But the complaint for this class action alleges that it has a second means of taking in money: selling information on its subscribers’ identities to data aggregators and similar parties. The complaint alleges that this violates Ohio’s statutes against misappropriation of names and likenesses.

Consumer Reports Sharing of Subscriber Information Ohio Complaint

Case Event History

Consumer Reports Sharing of Subscriber Information Ohio Complaint

October 21, 2021

Consumer Reports, Inc. sells subscriptions to its magazine to consumers. But the complaint for this class action alleges that it has a second means of taking in money: selling information on its subscribers’ identities to data aggregators and similar parties. The complaint alleges that this violates Ohio’s statutes against misappropriation of names and likenesses.

Consumer Reports Sharing of Subscriber Information Ohio Complaint
Tags: Using Your Private Information Without Consent, Your Privacy