Lawsuit Claims NBC Illegally Profits from Golf Channel Viewer Data

A class action lawsuit filed in Massachusetts federal court accuses Golf Channel of selling viewers’ personal information and viewing history without their permission.

“The Personal Viewing Information of 13,089,254 American consumers who purchased Defendant’s video products is offered for sale on the website of NextMark, Inc. (‘NextMark’) – one of many traffickers of this type of Personal Viewing Information – at a base price of ‘$85.00/M [per thousand records]’ (8.5 cents each),” the NBCUniversal class action lawsuit says.

The Lawsuit 

According to the lawsuit, plaintiff Justin Breault claims NBCUniversal sells or rents subscriber information to third-parties in order to supplement its revenue.

The information allegedly being rented or sold includes customers’ names and addresses, as well as “detailed transactional information” about the titles and subject matter of the media purchased by subscribers. 

Once the data is disclosed, the recipients of the information can add other personal and demographic data for those customers, then re-sell the personal viewing information to other third-parties, the class action lawsuit says.

Breault says he purchased a Golf Channel “subscription-based video good or service,” presumably GolfPass, within the past two years, and he was never notified, in writing or otherwise, that his personal or viewing information would be disclosed to third-parties.

Breault claims, NBCUniversal disclosed his personal information, “including, inter alia, Plaintiff’s name, postal address, telephone number, gender, age, income, whether he has children, and his homeowner status, as well as the title of the video service/product Plaintiff purchased” to marketing companies, data appenders and aggregators or other third-parties.

Breault’s Demands 

Breault is asking the Court to put a stop to NBCUniversal’s practice of disclosing its subscribers’ personal viewing information, which he maintains is a violation of the federal Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA).

He demands a jury trial and seeks an order declaring NBCUniversal’s conduct violates the federal VPPA; an order for the defendant to pay $2,500 to the plaintiff and each Class Member; punitive damages in an amount to be determined at trial; prejudgment interest on all amounts; restitution and other monetary relief; injunctive relief; and reasonable attorneys’ fees and court costs.

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