The operators of Intelius, a website offering and selling personal
information reports, faces a class action complaint alleging Intelius’ products
violates Illinois’ law governing who can control that personal information.
Lake Forest resident Michael R. Siegel filed his complaint
in Cook County Circuit Court Oct. 20, targeting Inome Inc.,of Bellevue, Wash.,
operator of the Intelius.com website. According to the complaint, Intelius
sells personal information to the general public and uses people’s names and
likenesses for third-party marketing purposes related to its products and
services — all without the consent of the people whose information
constitutes each report.
In his complaint, Siegel included computer screenshots to
show what happens when conducting a Google search for his own name. The
Intelius page for “Michael Siegel in Lake Forest, IL” was the first link, and
clicking on that link brought up a list of various people named Michael Siegel,
along with “approximate age, location and possible known relatives.”
After clicking on his name, Siegel said, Intelius displayed
a page with a map containing a marker near his home, partially redacted email
addresses and phone numbers, social media network access and alias information.
Intelius also offers what information is available to website users who pay for
detailed reports, advertising data such as “criminal background, record of
bankruptcy proceedings, liens, court judgments, aliases, lawsuits, marriages,
divorces, status as a sex offender and other identity information.”
The site doesn’t contact people to verify their information,
Siegel said, and the process to correct erroneous records is “laborious.” The
absence of content, and the practice of charging for access to the information,
and even the advertising of that service, constitutes the privacy violation
under the Illinois Right of Publicity Act, per the complaint.
The class would include any Illinois resident whose
information Intelius used “in connection with the sale, advertising or
promotion of Intelius products and services from 2011” to the day the matter is
resolved. A defendant class would include any entity in Illinois that “made
public use of, or held out the identity” of any Illinoisan in connection with
Spiegel said Intelius’ practice of creating profile pages
for people on its website violates the Illinois Right of Publicity Act by depriving
people of “the right to control and to choose whether and how to use an
individual’s entity for commercial purposes.” He also alleged unjust enrichment
against Inome and requested an injunction or restraining order preventing
Intelius from any further violations.
In addition to class certification, Siegel seeks actual,
statutory and punitive damages as well as legal fees.
Representing Siegel and the putative class is attorney Larry
D. Drury, of Chicago.