Magazine Publisher Sued for Disclosing Customer Info to Advertisers

A suit was filed on Tuesday in the Eastern District of Michigan by plaintiff Jess Knoll (both individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated) against defendant Farm Show Publishing, Inc. (FSP). The class action complaint alleges that the defendant disclosed to data aggregators and cooperatives detailed information regarding the plaintiff’s magazine subscription, which resulted in him receiving a significant amount of unwanted junk mail.

FSP is the publisher of a magazine called Farm Show, which the plaintiff is subscribed to. The complaint explains that FSP took the plaintiff’s private reading information and unlawfully rented, exchanged, and disclosed the information to advertisers, political organizations, and other non-profit companies. By disclosing the private information, FSP put consumers that have subscriptions to their Farm Show magazine “at risk of serious harm from scammers.”

When the defendant revealed the private reading information of its customers to advertisers without their consent, the defendant had allegedly “uniformly failed to obtain any form of consent from – or even provide effective notice to – its customers before disclosing their private reading information.”

The complaint concludes that the disclosed information has the potential to “reveal intimate facts about [the plaintiff and the class] lives, from our political and religious beliefs to our health concerns – to anybody willing to pay for it.”

The complaint cites a violation of Michigan’s Preservation of Personal Privacy Act (PPPA), which was passed in 1988 and is intended to protect the privacy of consumers who purchase, rent, and borrow certain materials. The plaintiff claims that the defendant violated the PPPA when they gave the private reading information of their customers to data aggregators, data appenders, data cooperatives, and third parties without prior consent. The plaintiff is seeking class certification for himself and all others similarly situated, favorable judgment that the defendant violated the PPPA, an award of $5,000, prejudgment interest, litigation fees, and a trial by jury.

The plaintiff is represented in the litigation by the Miller Law Firm, P.C., Bursor & Fisher, P.A., and Hedin Hall LLP.