Supreme Court ruling on Spokeo.com
If you’re concerned about your personal information being out there in public online and especially if you’re a customer of Abine’s DeleteMe service, we thought you’d be interested in hearing about the recent Supreme Court decision concerning the data broker Spokeo.com. Spokeo is one of the many data broker web sites which DeleteMe removes you and/or your family’s personal information from.
It is not often the Supreme Court rules on a case involving online privacy and personal information, and this case (Spokeo vs. Robins) is very important for anyone concerned with how companies are storing and using our personal information.
What harm does Spokeo do by showing incorrect information about you?
A Virginia man named Thomas Robins sued Spokeo alleging the information presented about him made it hard for him to find employment. Spokeo showed him to be a married man in his 50’s earning a significant salary with children. NONE of this information about Mr. Robins was correct. On a related note, when DeleteMe removes profiles on Spokeo and other data brokers – we find information we have reason to believe is inconsistent and inaccurate in over 40% of all profiles.
Quite obviously to most of us, if employers use Spokeo to perform a screening on Mr. Robins, his completely incorrect data might lead to a company deciding never to interview him.
And for DeleteMe customers, it is also obvious that having your detailed personal information available to be freely searched and put on sale for between $3 and $50 dollars on the top data broker sites is not something desirable… even if the information is accurate.
We created our premium DeleteMe service which removes your information from dozens of data brokers and keeps it off all year long in order to make it easy to have a lower profile and to have less personal information about you searchable online. Of course, you can do it yourself without our service – we even help guide you along the way:
So what did the Supreme Court say?
All the risks, harms, and problems of having our personal info “out there” are obvious to many of us, however, in a stricter legal sense, there are bigger issues at stake in this case that involve class action law suits in general and what plaintiffs need to do to prove they were truly victims and were truly harmed.
The details: the court essentially took a middle ground, sending the case back down to the lower court saying that while Mr. Robins could have potentially been harmed by Spokeo under a special statute (related to Congressional legislation from years ago called the FCRA which regulates credit reporting agencies you’ve probably heard of such as Experian and Equifax) – the court stated that there needs to be more clarity around both how Mr. Robins was truly harmed by the inaccurate Spokeo info and how this kind of harm might apply to the larger set of consumers – including nearly ALL OF US – that have our personal info listed there.