Venkat Balasubramani has an interesting analysis and commentary on a privacy lawsuit that’s not the run-of-the-mill lawsuit. I had noted this lawsuit previously on this blog (here) after a previous lawsuit failed. Venkat writes:
This is a privacy lawsuit brought by people who signed up for a dating site (Positive Singles) for people with STDs. Plaintiffs allege that Successfulmatch, the company that operates the site, made numerous privacy representations stating in its website copy that it “care[s] about [users’] privacy more than other sites.”
This is a privacy case where the plaintiffs and claims have key differences from the run-of-the-mill privacy case. First, the facts here are sensitive, and even incidental disclosure would support a claim for damages. Second, these are paying customers and did not sign-up for a free service. It’s unclear whether this is what keeps the lawsuit going in contrast to the numerous other information-sharing lawsuits we see that are routinely dismissed. The case of course contains the age-old scenario of a website making rosy marketing assurances that may not be backed up by its actual practices. (Something the FTC has been cracking down on and that ensnared mainstream sites and services such as Facebook, Snapchat, and even Twitter.)
The key factual question is the role of these affiliate sites. They could just be a means of driving traffic, and while this does not neutralize allegedly misleading statements, it does put it in a slightly different light than a case where a site is actually sharing information with third parties. Unstated in the court’s opinion is whether there is increased security risk or downstream disclosure from the affiliate sites. Once the information is out of SuccessfulMatch’s hands, it’s tough to control what happens to it.
Again, this case is a rare standout as a privacy lawsuit with legs.
Read more on Technology & Marketing Law Blog.