Three Midwestern residents whose names appear when you search for them on a public records commercial website sued, alleging that the way the site makes you purchase a subscription to view their information violates their state’s laws against use. of someone’s identity or “persona” in business ventures without their permission.
Loretta Bensen of Ohio, Sherry Gaul of Illinois and Shontonna Harris of Indiana seek to become lead plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit they filed in Boston U.S. District Court yesterday against Infopayer, headquartered on Atlantic Avenue in the North End for its staterecords.org Website. The three also named Intermedia Ventures, a Newton-based web consulting company.
Infopay’s website, which claims to have a database of over five billion public records on Americans, allows visitors to enter a person’s name and status, after which it creates a supposed report on the public documents he claims to have on the person. But to actually access the report, a visitor must purchase a paid subscription – which then grants them access to other people’s records as well.
The three plaintiffs claim their states all have laws prohibiting a business from using someone’s information in a commercial enterprise without their permission and say using their name to push monthly subscriptions is exactly the kind of business trade that their states are talking about.
In other words, the defendants do not offer to sell information about wanted people on their website, but rather use their identity to sell subscriptions to their paid service. …
By using the identity of the plaintiffs in their advertisements without consent and for their own commercial gain, the defendants have violated – and continue to violate – advertising rights laws in Ohio, Illinois and Indiana.
Their proposed class would be all consumers in the tri-state, which they claim have been harmed to the tune of more than $ 5 million – “$ 2,500 and $ 10,000 per violation.”
They are represented by Birnbaum and Godkin, located less than a mile down Atlantic Avenue from the Infopay offices, with the help of lawyers in New York and Chicago.