PeopleConnect and Intelius face another lawsuit filed over their apparent misuse of Illinois residents’ identities to advertise Intelius.com’s subscription services.
Per the lawsuit, the defendants have violated the Illinois Right of Publicity Act by displaying individuals’ names and other identifying information, such as their ages, locations and known relatives, as part of a free preview of the records offered through Intelius.com’s subscription plans.
The case claims the use of the individuals’ identifying information constitutes a privacy violation given the subjects of the reports never provided consent for their data to be used for marketing purposes.
“In this way,” the complaint states, “Intelius misappropriated people’s identities (individuals’ names and other identifying information such as their age, location, and known relatives) for its own commercial benefit (to market and promote a monthly subscription to access unlimited reports on individuals in its database.)”
A proposed class action claims PeopleConnect, Inc. and Intelius LLC have advertised access to Illinois residents’ personal information on Intelius.com without securing the consent of those who appear in the ads—portrayed as “free previews” of the service—to do so.
Per the nine-page case, the defendants have overstepped the Illinois Right of Publicity Act by using consumers’ personal information for commercial purposes without their permission, specifically in displaying free previews of Intelius.com’s services that amount to de facto advertisements.
The defendants operate a website that sells to the general public background reports on consumers, the lawsuit explains. Upon entering a person’s name on Intelius.com, a site visitor is shown a free preview of the defendants’ services that includes the searched individual’s name, age, current city and state of residence, relatives and other identifying information, the suit says.
The preview, according to the case, provides enough information to identify the individual and is designed to entice the website visitor to purchase the defendants’ services, which include access to “criminal records” and “unlimited reports” on the searched person. Per the lawsuit, the defendants’ monthly subscription service allows users to access reports on any individual in the website’s database.
The Illinois Right of Publicity Act, however, prohibits the use of an individual’s identity for commercial purposes during the person’s lifetime without their written consent, the complaint says. The lawsuit alleges the defendants have failed to obtain written permission from Illinois residents before using their personal information to advertise services on intelius.com.
The suit argues that “[i]t would be simple” for the defendants to maintain their business model while still complying with state law.
“For example, Intelius could merely display the names of the searched individuals – without more identifying information – in their advertisements for their services,” the complaint states. “Or Intelius could sell Plaintiff’s information on an individual basis without using her identity to advertise its unlimited subscription service.”
The plaintiff claims that although she has never been an Intelius customer and has “no relationship with Intelius whatsoever,” the defendants have used her personal information to advertise their services without securing written consent to do so. According to the case, the plaintiff’s personally identifiable information has economic value, especially to online advertisers, yet she has never been compensated by Intelius “in any way” for its use of her information.
PeopleConnect has been the subject of recent class action litigation over its apparently unlawful use of Californians’ yearbook information on Classmates.com, while a similar proposed class action has been filed against Spokeo for its alleged misuse of Illinois residents’ information for advertising purposes on Spokeo.com.
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