District Court: Michigan privacy law covers out-of-state residents
On January 16, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan denied a publishing company’s motion to dismiss putative class allegations that it disclosed subscribers’ personal information to third parties, ruling that the subscribers did not need to live in Michigan in order to bring claims under the state’s Personal Privacy Protection Act (PPPA). According to the plaintiff, the company allegedly disclosed magazine subscribers’ personal reading information (PRI) to data aggregators that would then supplement it with additional information (including age, gender, income, and employer names) in order to create detailed customer profiles. The company then allowed “almost any organization to rent a customer list containing numerous categories of detailed customer information,” the plaintiff alleged. The company argued, however, that the plaintiff, who resides in Virginia, lacked standing to bring claims under the PPPA because the law protects only Michigan residents. The company also contended that the plaintiff failed to demonstrate concrete injury suffered as a result of the company’s alleged disclosure of PRI to third parties without consent.
The court disagreed with both arguments, stating that the company’s argument “rests solely on the fact that a non-Michigan resident has never brought suit under the PPPA,” which is “unpersuasive and contravened by the language of the statute and case law.” The PPPA does not impose a residency requirement in order for customers to qualify for protections under the statute, the court stated, noting that “[i]f the Michigan legislature intended to limit the statute to Michigan residents, it could have done so explicitly.” Among other things, the court also concluded that the plaintiff satisfied the injury-in-fact element for Article III standing because “the alleged economic harm caused by the disclosure of PRI provides support to conclude [the plaintiff] suffered a concrete injury.”