The Internet is all about sharing. We share memes with our friends on Facebook, messages with our coworkers on Slack, and 140 characters of witty repartee with the public on Twitter. These platforms are fueled by data, which allows providers to better tailor their services to our desires and develop new, innovative ways for us to create, interact, and transact both online and in the physical world.
Other entities use data in different ways. Spokeo, a data broker, is one such entity. Spokeo collects, collates, and cross-references publicly available data from a variety of databases, and presents that information in profiles about individuals, basic details of which it then makes freely available, with greater detail available to interested parties for a fee. Spokeo’s services, though very different from the consumer-facing platforms we enjoy every day, can help illustrate a key distinction in the ever-shifting balance between consumer privacy and innovation online.
Last month, the Supreme Court ruled in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins that Robins, whose Spokeo-generated online profile contained inaccurate information, failed to meet minimum constitutional requirements to show harm in order to have standing to bring a case when alleging that Spokeo willfully failed to comply with the compliance requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) in making an inaccurate profile available to its users.