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Magazines Sued for Sharing Customer Data Under CA’s Share the Light Law

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By Admin on February 16, 2012 5:03 AM

Several national publishers are being sued for violating California's "shine the light law." The companies in question run high-traffic websites such as RunnersWorld.com and Wired.com.

The privacy law regulates the sale of customer data. The law mandates that businesses that deal with California residents need to make certain information available.

Specifically, they need to tell customers ways to opt out of information sharing. Either that or they need to provide an explanation of how customer data was used.

Businesses that operate physical storefronts in the state can tell customers the necessary information in person. Those that operate websites -- like publishers Time, Inc., Hearst Communications, and Conde Nast, cannot. They are supposed to include a link to a privacy policy on their website that contains all the necessary information.

It's something that many of the websites in question did not have. Eleven lawsuits have been filed against the websites and their parent companies. Businesses that violate the California statute are on the hook for damages of up to $3,000 per consumer, according to Media Post.

But there is no guarantee the plaintiffs will be able to recover. In other cases, Media Post reports that judges have ruled that Internet users need to prove they actually suffered an injury before they can have their day in court. This requirement is typical of all cases. Individuals need to have "standing" in order to sue. This means they need to be harmed or threatened in some way.

Other lawsuits may soon follow. The magazines were sued, but they are likely not the only ones breaking the "shine the light" law.

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