High court to consider lawsuits over personal data

The Supreme Court will decide whether Web sites and other companies that collect personal data can be sued for publishing inaccurate information even if the mistakes don’t cause any actual harm.

The justices said Monday they will hear an appeal from Spokeo.com, an Internet search engine that compiles data on people and lets subscribers view the profiles.

Thomas Robins sued Spokeo for violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act after it incorrectly stated his age, education, employment and marital status. Robins said the false information damaged his job prospects.

A federal district court said Robins had no right to sue because he hasn’t suffered any harm from the errors. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, ruling it was enough that Spokeo violated the law.

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