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The publisher of Consumer Reports, the prominent nonprofit dedicated to providing unbiased consumer product reviews, has settled a class-action lawsuit, paying $16.375 million.
Don Ruppel, a resident of St. Charles, MI, sued Consumers Union of Yonkers in 2016 for selling his and other subscribers’ personal information — including data like address, age, ethnicity, gender, income, name, political affiliation, and religion — to “list brokers,” middleman companies that buy subscriber list data and then resell it to third parties for advertising purposes, either in whole or by specific demographic. Consumer Reports is well known for refusing any advertisments as a display of transparency and lack of bias.
While the Yonkers company maintains that it provides clear notification of its data-sharing policies, Ruppel argued that the sale of subscriber information including digital reading habits constituted “unjust enrichment” under his state’s Preservation of Personal Privacy Act. Agreed to earlier this year and just approved by a U.S. District judge this month, the settlement states that both sides agree to the settlement, “taking into account the uncertainty and risks inherent in any litigation.” Consumers Union also “continues to deny any wrongdoing,” as per the agreement.
Ruppel, as lead plaintiff, will receive $7,500 and about $180 will be awarded to each of more than 560,000 Consumer Reports subscribers who had a Michigan street address between 2010 and 2016. Manhattan law firm Bursor & Fisher PA will receive one-third of the total settlement, or $5,458,333.