Spokeo Fined $800,000 for Violation of FTC Privacy Laws

19 June 2012 Internet, IT & e-Discovery Blog Blog
Authors: Peter Vogel

The NY Times reported that Spokeo was “compiling and selling people’s personal information for use by potential employers in screening job applicants.” For the first time ever, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged and assessed a fine for use of personal Internet data in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Spokeo confessed that it violated federal laws by “furnishing a consumer report to any person who does not have permissible purpose to receive the consumer report...” 

Between 2008 to 2010 Spokeo sold “coherent people profiles” that could include:

an individual’s address,
phone number,
marital status,
approximate age,
e-mail address,
hobbies,
ethnicity,
religion,
participation on social media sites,
photos,
and other information.

Spokeo founder and President Harrison Tang admitted the FTC charges and signed the Consent Order with the FTC.

This fine and confession by Spokeo are significant as they indicates social media sites must comply with federal privacy laws, and the that the FTC is being vigilant to protect consumers.

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