Spokeo Lawsuit Heard by Supreme Court

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Washington, DCThe US Supreme Court has heard arguments in the Spokeo lawsuit, which alleged Spokeo published false and misleading information about people without the victims’ knowledge or consent. The lawsuit was filed by Tom Robins, who alleged Spokeo published false information about him and marketed this information to employers while he was looking for work.

Spokeo is an online company that creates profiles of people based on information found online. Thomas Robins filed his lawsuit alleging violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act because information Spokeo compiled about him was incorrect. Spokeo argues Robins cannot sue because the information it shared did not cause any real-world harm, according to Politico (11/2/15). But Robins argues he does not have to prove real-world harm, he only has to prove Spokeo broke the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Fortune (11/2/15) notes that among the information Spokeo had incorrect about Robins was his age, marital status and professional experience. Although Spokeo listed Robins as being in his 50s, married and professionally employed, Robins was actually much younger, single and unemployed.

A federal district judge in Los Angeles initially dismissed Robins’s lawsuit, rejecting Robins’s claims that his job prospects were negatively affected by the false profile. But according to the Los Angeles Times (11/1/15), the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the lawsuit, finding that the violations of Robins’s rights were reason enough to allow the lawsuit.

Spokeo then appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that because there was no actual harm to Robins, there was no basis for a lawsuit. At the beginning of November, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case. The Wall Street Journal (11/2/15) notes that at least two justices suggested inaccurate information was in itself a real injury, with Justice Elena Kagan noting most people would feel harmed in some way if there was inaccurate information about them on the Internet. The Obama Administration reportedly also argued on Robins’s behalf.

No decision is expected for at least a few months.

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Reader Comments

Posted by

"May the plaintiffs prevail and Spokeo fall"..ditto...I can't believe people pay for the garbage that spokeo and other crap sites like them are selling. They should go directly to the credit reporting sites to get accurate information.

The proper procedure is to get approval for a consumer background check from the candidate

Posted by

To "D" who posted "May the plaintiffs prevail and Spokeo fall", you sir are a moron and need to read the FCRA. The case should be thrown out and and the original district judge's decision was accurate. There is no harm done by Spokeo, it depends on who is using the data and for what purpose.

Posted by

This is ridiculous, if anything Robins should be suing the company he was trying to get a job at for using data that is not FCRA compliant data to make a decision for employment. If the employer was using Spokeo to find data about a potential applicant, then the employer violated Spokeo's rights on what the intended use of the data is for AND for not being FCRA compliant. If there is inaccurate public data then it is up to the individual to contact those repositories and follow the procedure to correct it. If those repositories do not have a procedure to allow the said individual to update or correct the data, then a lawsuit should ensue to correct this.

Posted by

IIED: defamation claim. so outrageous and patently false as to be deemed tortious. May the plaintiffs prevail and Spokeo fall

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