The Supreme Court will have its say over an issue that could have huge repercussions in the arena of data published online by aggregators who disseminate someone’s personal data.
If that data happens to be false, it has the potential to impede that individual’s ability to get a job or possibly a loan. If this happens, is it a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)? The FCRA is a federal law that requires accuracy, fairness and privacy regarding the data used by consumer reporting agencies.
Moreover, if a website or service distributes information that is incorrect about you, do you then have the right to sue?
The U.S. Supreme Court said Monday that it will hear an appeal from Spokeo.com, an Internet search engine that compiles data on people and lets subscribers view the profiles.
Thomas Robins sued Spokeo for allegedly violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act after the site incorrectly stated his age, education, employment and marital status. Robins contends that the false information damaged his job prospects.
Robins asserts that his prospects were hurt because Spokeo at the time was marketing its information to businesses and human resources professionals. Robins says he suffered both financial and emotional harm.
Spokeo’s marketing practices led to an $800,000 privacy settlement with the Federal Trade Commission in 2012.
A federal district court said Robins did not have the right to sue because he hasn’t suffered any harm from the incorrect information. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, ruling it was enough that Spokeo violated the law.