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TEN Publishing Subscriber Info Sharing Michigan Privacy Law Class Action

Cover of an Issue of Hot Rod Magazine

Michigan’s Preservation of Personal Privacy Act (PPPA) prohibits the selling of magazine subscriber information to third parties. This complaint claims that TEN: Publishing Media, LLC nevertheless violated this law by selling the information of subscribers to Hot Rod magazine and other publications.

The class for this action is all Michigan resident who, at any time between June 19, 2016 and July 30, 2016, had their Personal Reading Information disclosed to third parties by TEN without their consent.

Subsection 2 of the PPPA says, “[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 of information concerning the purchase … of those materials by a customer that indicates the identity of the customer.”

But this complaint claims that, between June 19, 2016 and July 30, 2016, TEN disclosed plaintiff Thomas Forton’s information to other parties. Forton was a Michigan resident and a subscriber to Hot Rod magazine, and the complaint claims that his information was offered for sale to “data aggregators, data appenders, and/or data cooperatives, who then supplement that information with data from their own files. Moreover, during that same period, TEN rented or exchanged mailing lists containing Plaintiff Forton’s Personal Reading Information with third parties…”

The complaint says, “Plaintiff Forton was never provided any written notice that TEN rents, exchanges, or otherwise discloses its customers’ Personal Reading Information, or any means of opting out.”

How does Forton know his information is being sold or rented? First, he has begun receiving junk mail from other parties whose causes and products he is not interested in. 

Second, evidence is found in the offerings of certain of these data brokers. For example, the complaint claims NextMark, a list broker, allows third parties to rent access to the Personal Reading Information of 222,479 subscribers to Hot Rod magazine. It reproduces the page for NextMark entitled “Hot Rod Magazine Mailing List” that makes this offering, along with pages for “TEN: The Enthusiast Network Automotive Masterfile Mailing List” and “Motor Trend Mailing List.”

These lists are rented or sold to other data aggregators and appenders, other consumer-facing businesses, non-profit organizations that solicit donations, and political organizations that want both donations and volunteer help.

Subscribers can get subscriptions to TEN magazines through a variety of outlets, but the complaint says, “Regardless of how the consumer subscribes, TEN never requires the individual to read or agree to any terms of service, privacy policy, or information-sharing policy.”

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