Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins

136 S.Ct. 1540 (2016)


D operates a “people search engine.” If an individual visits D’s Web site and inputs a person’s name, a phone number, or an e-mail address, D conducts a computerized search in a wide variety of databases and provides information about the subject of the search. The FCRA seeks to ensure “fair and accurate credit reporting.” The FCRA applies to companies that regularly disseminate information bearing on an individual’s “credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living.” The Act requires consumer reporting agencies to “follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of” consumer reports, to notify providers and users of consumer information of their responsibilities under the Act, to limit the circumstances in which such agencies provide consumer reports “for employment purposes,” and to post toll-free numbers for consumers to request reports. Any person who willfully fails to comply with any requirement is liable for either “actual damages” or statutory damages of $100 to $1,000 per violation, costs of the action and attorney’s fees, and possibly punitive damages. D is alleged to qualify as a “consumer reporting agency” under the FCRA. D operates a Web site that allows users to search for information about other individuals by name, e-mail address, or phone number. D searches a wide spectrum of databases and gathers and provides information such as the individual’s address, phone number, marital status, approximate age, occupation, hobbies, finances, shopping habits, and musical preferences. D markets its services to anyone. Persons wishing to perform a D search need not disclose their identities, and much information is available for free. Somebody made a search request for information about P. D created a profile on P. P discovered that it contained inaccurate information. P's profile states that he is married, has children, is in his 50’s, has a job, is relatively affluent, and holds a graduate degree. P claims that all of this information is incorrect. P filed a complaint on his own behalf and on behalf of a class of similarly situated individuals. The District Court dismissed the complaint for lack of standing. The Ninth Circuit reversed. The Ninth held that P had alleged that “D violated his statutory rights, not just the statutory rights of other people,” and, second, that “P’s personal interests in the handling of his credit information are individualized rather than collective.” The Ninth Circuit held that P had adequately alleged injury in fact, a requirement for standing under Article III of the Constitution. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.