The publisher of Reader’s Digest has settled a class action suit for $8.2 million after it allegedly breached privacy laws.
Plaintiff Shannon Taylor claimed that Trusted Media Brands (TMB) sold information that subscribers to Reader’s Digest gave to the publisher. The lawsuit stated that this led to Taylor and other members of the class action being “inundated with a barrage of unwanted junk mail and telephone solicitations” from telemarketers and direct mail advertisers.
The settlement fund will be used to pay valid claims submitted by the class action. Class counsel estimates each payment will be worth about $50, according to Top Class Actions.
TMB didn’t get consent
According to the suit, the data that TMB sold included the full names and home addresses of subscribers, as well as their gender, religion, and political affiliations. Taylor said: “Trusted Media will sell – to anyone willing to pay for it – a list with the names and addresses of all Reader’s Digest subscribers who are Jewish, Republican, single, over the age of 80, with a net worth of greater than $500,000, no children in the household and a history of charitable donations.”
She added that TMB never asked its customers for consent to sell this information. This would mean the company violated Michigan’s Preservation of Personal Privacy Act.
The proposed settlement will cover “all Persons with a Michigan street address who subscribed to a [TMB] Publication to be delivered to a Michigan street address between March 10, 2010 and July 30, 2016.”
This incident is another reminder that organizations need to improve the way they handle individuals’ personal data. Regulators are putting a greater emphasis on the protection of individuals’ data, as this case and the soon to be enforced EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) proves.
Even though it is an EU regulation, the GDPR applies to any US organization that handles EU residents’ personal data. Those organizations must not neglect the GDPR and their obligations to comply with it.
Our website provides vital information for US organizations looking to understand the Regulation, where you can also find products and services to help you achieve compliance.