Judge dismisses Time Warner privacy lawsuit

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Judge dismisses Time Warner privacy lawsuit

By Rick Barrett

A U.S. District Court judge in Milwaukee has dismissed a lawsuit that accused Time Warner Cable of keeping subscribers' personal information after they ended their cable service.

Derek Gubala, formerly of Oak Creek, claimed that Time Warner Cable kept personal identifiable information such as names and addresses, birth dates, Social Security numbers and credit card accounts of former customers, in violation of the Cable Communications Policy Act.

The CCPA would provide for liquidated damages of $100 per day of violation, plus punitive damages and attorney fees.

Last Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Pamela Pepper dismissed the case, citing the U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling in a case involving a Virginia man who sued the Internet search firm Spokeo for posting false information about people.

The Supreme Court said consumers could bring legal claims in such cases only if the information used by the company caused actual harm to the plaintiffs. Consumer rights advocates had sought a broader ruling that would let people sue without showing a real injury.

The lawsuit contended that, while the company's privacy policy indicates that subscribers' personal information is destroyed after it's no longer needed, the company actually keeps it all indefinitely.

Gubala was a Time Warner Cable subscriber from 2004 to 2006, according to his suit, but when he called the company again in 2014, he learned it still had all of his personally identifiable information on file.

“There are numerous serious and troubling privacy issues implicated by TWC's practice of retaining and misusing their former customers' personal information, including the risk of identity theft and conversion of personal financial accounts,” the suit noted.

The Time Warner Cable decision was consistent with the Supreme Court ruling regarding Spokeo, said Ed Fallone, associate professor of law at Marquette University.

“As I read Judge Pepper's opinion, it's a very straight forward application of what the Supreme Court was saying in Spokeo. The Supreme Court did make it clear that someone could be injured by the theft of intangible data, but there has to be a clear allegation of that, and I think it was missing in the (Gubala) complaint,” Fallone said.

Congress could someday change the law, but for now, consumers should realize that their personal, identifiable information isn't private if they share it with a business.

Read full article and learn more about Privacy Policy here.

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Disclaimer:  This article is provided for informational purposes only. It’s not legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is created. Neither the author nor FTC Guardian, Inc. is endorsed by the Federal Trade Commission.

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