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Penny Publications Discloses Subscriber Info Michigan PPPA Class Action

The complaint for this class action brings suit against Penny Publications, LLC for disclosing private reading information about consumers. The disclosure brought an avalanche of unwanted junk mail to the consumers. The lawsuit is brought under Michigan’s Preservation of Personal Privacy Act (PPPA) that forbids disclosing consumers’ reading materials other than to the consumers themselves.

The class for this action is all Michigan residents who, at any point during the relevant pre-July 30, 2016 time period, had their Private Reading Information disclosed to third parties by Penny without their consent. (An amendment to the PPPA went into effect on July 31, 2016.)

The complaint quotes Section 2 of the PPPA as saying, “[A] person, or an employee or agent of the person, engaged in the business of selling at retail, renting, or lending books or other written materials … shall not disclose to any person, other than the customers, a record or information concerning the purchase … of those materials by a customer that indicates the identity of the customer.”

Penny Publications is a publisher of books and magazines, such as Crossword, Dell Collector’s Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Family Variety Puzzles & Games, Sudoku, Word Search and Word Seeks magazines.

The complaint alleges, “To supplement its revenues, Penny rents, exchanges, or otherwise discloses its customers’ information—including their full names, titles of publications subscribed to, and home addresses … as well as myriad other categories of individualized data and demographic information such as gender—to data aggregators, data appenders, data cooperatives, and other third parties without written consent of its customers.”

As an example, the complaint alleges Penny has disclosed this information to NextMark, Inc., a list broker, which then “offers to provide renters access to the mailing list titled ‘Dell Magazines/Penny Press Masterfile Mailing List,’ which contains the Private Reading Information of 459,882 of Penny’s active U.S. subscribers at a base price of ‘$100.00/M’” that is, $100 per thousand or ten cents each.

The complaint shows a screen shot of the webpage offering this information. It offers “selects” for such things as gender, renewals, and “SCF/State/Zip.”

The complaint alleges that selling this information “is not only unlawful, but also dangerous because it allows for the targeting of particularly members of society.” For example, the complaint says, any person could buy a customer list for all women in Detroit, Michigan who subscribe to a particular magazine.

Because it rents or exchanges the information, the complaint claims, it can make money from disclosing the information again and again. The sale of such information also has “a cascading nature,” the complaint claims, as the information is passed on to other parties.

The plaintiff in this case is Bonnie Bennett, who subscribes to Word Seeks magazine. Because of Penny’s disclosures, Bennett has received what the complaint calls “a barrage of unwanted junk mail.”

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Privacy

Most Recent Case Event

Penny Publications Discloses Subscriber Info Michigan PPPA Complaint

September 17, 2021

The complaint for this class action brings suit against Penny Publications, LLC for disclosing private reading information about consumers. The disclosure brought an avalanche of unwanted junk mail to the consumers. The lawsuit is brought under Michigan’s Preservation of Personal Privacy Act (PPPA) that forbids disclosing consumers’ reading materials other than to the consumers themselves.

Penny Publications Discloses Subscriber Info Michigan PPPA Complaint

Case Event History

Penny Publications Discloses Subscriber Info Michigan PPPA Complaint

September 17, 2021

The complaint for this class action brings suit against Penny Publications, LLC for disclosing private reading information about consumers. The disclosure brought an avalanche of unwanted junk mail to the consumers. The lawsuit is brought under Michigan’s Preservation of Personal Privacy Act (PPPA) that forbids disclosing consumers’ reading materials other than to the consumers themselves.

Penny Publications Discloses Subscriber Info Michigan PPPA Complaint
Tags: Sharing Personal Information with Third Parties, Your Privacy