Monday, November 4, 2013

Federal Class Action Filed Against Test Publishers for Selling Students' Personal Data

An Illinois plaintiff recently sued the publishers of the ACT and the College Board, the company behind the SAT and Advanced Placement tests, alleging that the companies sell high school students' personal information, including Social Security numbers, to third parties at 33 cents per person. In a class action suit filed in the Northern District of Illinois on October 28, plaintiff Rachel Spector claims that "[i]n the regular course of their business, defendants obtain and possess a consumer's PII [personally identifiable information], such as their name, home address, self-reported grade point averages, educational background, interests, date of birth, test scores, Social Security number, phone number, etc." The complaint alleges that ACT has an “opt-out” approach to its sale of personal identification and never tells students that their information will be sold to third parties for monetary gain. Because most of the test takers are minors, the suit argues that they lack capacity “to affirmatively opt-out of the Defendant's “sharing” program, which is actually a “sales” program.” The suit seeks $5 million in class damages for violating the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, breach of contract, invasion of privacy, and unjust enrichment. The class asserts federal diversity jurisdiction and subject-matter jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005. The complaint is Rachel Specter, et al., v. ACT, Inc., and the College Board, No. 1:13CV07701, 2013 WL 5786001 (N.D.Ill. 2013).

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