On Monday, a class action lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against Advance Magazine Publishers, Inc., d/b/a Conde Nast (“Conde Nast”), alleging that the magazine publisher sells the personally identifiable information (“PII”) of its customers to third-party “data miners” in violation of Michigan State law. Specifically, the complaint alleges that Conde Nast has violated Michigan’s Video Rental Privacy Act (“VRPA”) prohibition against companies disclosing without permission any record or information concerning a Michigan customer’s purchase of written materials, if the record contains PII. According to the complaint, Conde Nast sold lists containing PII at a rate of approximately $180 per thousand subscribers. The complaint seeks to certify a class of all Michigan residents who had their PII disclosed to third parties by Conde Nast without consent.
Does Selling PII Without Customer Consent Violate Michigan Law?
Conde Naste Sued for Selling Personally Identifiable Information
The VRPA, passed in or about 1988, states in part that: “a person, or an employee or agent of the person, engaged in the business of selling at retail, renting, or lending books or other written materials . . . shall not disclose to any person, other than the customer, a record or information concerning the purchase . . . of those materials by a customer that indicates the identity of the customer.” The complaint seeks to enjoin Conde Nast from violating that provision of the VRPA, as well as disgorgement of all profits made by Conde Nast from the sale of customer PII or $5,000.00 per class member, whichever is greater. Conde Nast must respond to the complaint next month.