A proposed class action alleges Outdoor Sportsman Group has unlawfully rented, exchanged or disclosed the information of Guns & Ammo, RifleShooter and Handguns magazine subscribers to third parties without consent—and thereby triggered “a barrage of unwanted junk mail.”
The 27-page lawsuit alleges Outdoor Sportsman Group has run afoul of the Michigan Video Rental Privacy Act by sharing magazine subscribers’ information with, among others, data appenders, data cooperatives and list brokers who in turn disclosed the data to “aggressive advertisers, political organizations and non-profit companies.”
According to the complaint, “[d]ocumented evidence” confirms the defendant’s unauthorized data sharing:
“For example, a list broker, NextMark, Inc. (‘NextMark’), offers to provide renters access to the mailing list titled ‘OUTDOOR SPORTSMAN GROUP INC. MASTERFILE Mailing List’, which contains the Private Reading Information of 798,422 of OSG’s active U.S. subscribers at a base price of ‘$100.00/M,’ (i.e. 10 cents apiece) … ”
Per the lawsuit, Outdoor Sportsman Group has engaged in the disclosure of subscribers’ data as a means to “supplement its revenues.” The informed rented, exchanged or otherwise disclosed by the defendant includes subscribers’ full names, titles of the publications to which they subscribe, and home addresses in addition to “myriad other categories of individualized data and demographic information,” including age, gender, income and marital status, the case claims.
The suit moreover charges that by renting, exchanging or otherwise disclosing, rather than selling, subscriber information, Outdoor Sportsman Group is able to disclose the data time and time again to countless third parties. The case contends that in addition to being unlawful, the defendant’s data sharing is particularly dangerous given it allows vulnerable individuals to be targeted and creates the potential for the identification of the magazines’ subscribers, i.e., gun owners.
“For example, anyone could buy a customer list provided by OSG that contains the names and addresses of all women Guns & Ammo subscribers who are over the age of 40, possess a hunting license, and make over $80,000.00 per year,” the lawsuit says. “Such a list is available for sale on the open market for approximately $143.00 per thousand subscribers listed.”
Although Outdoor Sportsman Group “profits handsomely” from its disclosure of subscriber data, it does so “at the expense of its customers’ statutory privacy rights” given the information is shared without consent, the suit claims.
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