We know that many people want to keep their information confidential especially when they are diagnosed with some kind of a disease. In this case we are talking about STDs and we know how badly people diagnosed with these diseases, especially herpes are being discriminated. People suffering from this disease are often humiliated and called names and for them their dating life is as good as dead. But with the turn of the century they also found different avenues to get back to dating life. Their preferred choice of dating is through online dating sites and one such site is Positivesingles.com. Positivesingles.com is a herpes dating site and is also known as one of the most popular ones among them.
One thing that is an absolute parameter for any such website is the fact that all the information especially personal information and pictures posted on the sites will have to remain confidential. No transfer of pictures or any information can be done here unless expressly agreed and approved by the person whose information is to be used. This is done to protect the privacy of the person and this is the standard arrangement done by any website and ever more stringently if it is a herpes dating site.
The whole lawsuit against Positivesingles.com was based on this simple fact that the information of one of the candidates on the site was posted to another site without prior permission. It was alleged that the owner of the site shared pictures and other details to another site when there was a confidential agreement in place. The verdict favoured the plaintiff and he won this class action suit which earned him 16.5 million dollars.
In order to understand the positive singles lawsuit you need to know the basics of the case. This case was registered in the year 2011 and here the claimant actually sued the parent company called Successfulmatch.com. This company was known to run a number of different websites among which positivesingles.com was one. Another business of the company was to help people set up their own website which was also a part of their affiliate scheme.
The problem with the arrangement was that they offered software and database assistance but they didn’t exactly keep a tab on the information that was taken from the website. So in effect people could have taken any detail and information from the database. All these information were of those people who were registered with Successfulmatch.com, so anyone whose profile registered with the site was vulnerable.
So when the first court papers were served to the site it was clearly stated that the website offered 100% confidentiality and advertised it in that same light. Moreover it also mentioned in their agreement that they didn’t rent or sell any information to any third party. But in reality the whole confidentiality mentioned in the agreement was a farce at it shared information with over 1000 third party sites. This was a big dent for the herpes dating site as people with this disease who thought that they found a safe haven with these websites were sent back crashing to their old and judgemental world.
Let’s look at some of the many false promises made by positivesingles.com. At first the plaintiff did agree that after the completion of the registration process he was provided with a link. It was a link which was more like an enquiry about the candidate. They had to fill out the profile details and it also asked about the kind of disease that they had, whether it was HIV or STD or something else. One thing that was weird in this form was that it was written that by accepting the terms and condition the candidates would be allowing the site to publish this data to other websites. So in a sense by accepting the terms in this form he was accepting that positivesingles.com was allowed to use his details as and when required.
The plaintiff contented that most of the candidates do not read the terms and just click on it as most of the agreement terms are similar and this was a peculiar occurrence. The lawyer of the plaintiff went on to say that his client was not aware of that the defendant here was engaged in such activities and it was a gross violation of the right. Moreover he cited an example to prove his point. He simply said that the action performed by the defendant in this instance was like if someone was putting their profiles on Jdate and seeing that somehow their profiles have come up on Christian Mingle and that too without their knowledge.
The bigger problem was that these details also included their medical condition that they mentioned in their profiles for positivesingles.com. It also opens a door for discrimination and that in turn can result in the plaintiff suffering from further humiliation. The anonymity clause undertaken by the court was to the point and hence this case was known as Doe vs. Successfulmatch.com. This is something that the sites should have done themselves. The concept of pre-populated databases was put to question and whether information of members can be circulated like this without prior information. The whole concept of anonymity was defeated by the site and their promise to make sure that 100% confidentiality was proved a farce.
Although Positivesigles.com contended the charge but the court after properly looking at the terms of agreement found a lot of discrepancies. Amidst a huge uproar from privacy activists the jury found the defendant guilty on the charges of misleading statements and proposed $ 1.5 million in compensatory damages and punitive damages in the tune of $ 15 million. The judge also upheld the judgement of the jury and to the surprise of many people there was no appeal from successfulmatch.com.
This was a big win for both the privacy activists and valuable lesson for the other herpes dating sites. Moreover now most of the websites have brought in the necessary changes in their privacy terms as no one wants another positive singles lawsuit. Reading more