April 27, 2012 1:13pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Actress Details Amazon's Alleged Data-Mining Fraud in Amended IMDb Lawsuit (Exclusive)
Huang Hoang, the actress who sued IMDb for revealing her real age, submitted an amended lawsuit against Amazon.com and its iMDb subsidiary on Wednesday. The new complaint has been changed to reflect a newfound emphasis on Amazon's purported "data-mining" practices, including the allegation that when customers purchase products on Amazon, the company shares data with iMDb.
Last month, the judge in the case allowed Hoang to pursue her allegations that IMDb breached contract and violated laws on consumer protection, but dismissed her claims that the defendant committed fraud because of a lack of supporting details. But Hoang's lawyer hasn't given up on this charge, essentially arguing that the data-mining amounts to misrepresentations in the company's agreements with its customers.
According to the amended complaint:
"Had Defendants disclosed to Plaintiff that they would data mine her credit card information or share it with each other, or that the information would be used for any other purpose than to process payment, she would not have submitted her personal and credit card information to either Defendant at any time, and as a result, Defendants would not have the personal identity information they used to find and publish Plaintiff’s date of birth to the world."
Previously, Hoang solely relied upon IMDb's Subscriber Agreement to push the charge that the personal information gathered was beyond what was represented to customers when they signed up for IMDb's pro service.
Hoang, who says she has purchased items on Amazon, says that IMDb is not subject to Amazon's privacy notice nor does IMDb follow practices at least as restrictive as Amazon. In other words, if Amazon's position is that it can rightfully data mine customer credit cards on IMDb to do things like pull ages for actor profiles, then the only way Amazon can share info with IMDb, is if it believes that it has the same data-mining right when customers use credit cards to make purchases on Amazon.
But that's not what Amazon customers think they are getting, according to Hoang. She says that customers "believe that the only risk in providing their personal and credit card data to Defendants is that the information could potentially be intercepted when traveling to Defendants over the Internet" and thus reflect, misrepresentations by the company.
"Defendants’ statements and omissions described herein are material because they greatly influence whether consumers, and Plaintiff, will subscribe to IMDb Pro or purchase products from Amazon.com," she adds.
Hoang also re-pleads her allegation that the company is violating Washington's Privacy Act -- a claim that was also dismissed by the judge last month.
The only good news for Amazon is that she is no longer seeking $1 million in punitive damages, which the judge barred because the state's Supreme Court frowned on such a remedy. However, she's still seeking compensatory damages, legal costs, and an injunction that would require the removal of unlawfully obtained data, and a prohibition on publishing her personal info.
Amazon.com hasn't yet responded to a request for comment.