Suing Over Personal Information

There is no one, concise answer to the question of whether or not you can sue someone for disclosing personal information, but depending on the nature of the information that you consider to be personal, it may be difficult to sue someone for doing this.

Personal Data

Access to people’s personal data as well as laws about who can access the personal data of others with or without their consent, has drastically increased with the advent of the Internet. Many people do not realize that most of what they do on the Internet makes personal information accessible to others and in many situations, another entity owns the information a person shares on their site even if the person did not intend it to be viewed and/or used by the website they used to share it on.

A prime example of this is that when people share both public and private messages or photos on most social media site, this and their activity on the site, can be access and used by the website. It is technically legal for Gmail and other email platforms to read and analyze an individual’s emails, which they do in order to garner information about their users for advertisers. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are similar. Everything from virtual reality games, apps to track your personal exercise program, the weather and more obviously, apps to map your routes and give you directions from one place to another, are legally allowed to collect your minute-to-minute GPS location and track you 24 hours a day in order to gather information about you to sell to advertisers- or anyone else that is willing to buy it. Many people do not think twice about signing up for discount cards at supermarkets and other stores they frequent but these too are used by the stores to make money by selling the information of what products you have bought.

Restrictions on Specific Kinds of Personal Information

There are some restrictions on entities that are not legally allowed to share information about an individual without their consent. Medical records are supposed to be kept strictly confidential between a patient, and their healthcare provider(s) and the provider’s staff. The IRS is not allowed to share information from individuals’ tax returns. If someone has their records sealed by a judge, the courts must protect that person’s records from being made to available to anyone else. Unfortunately, even in situations where an entity or organization is legally bound to keep private information confidential, it can be negligently leaked to a third-party with few limitations on their ability to share it without your consent. As well, if you tell a friend, acquaintance, spouse, co-worker, etc., information about yourself even though you specified it was confidential, there is little recourse for you to prevent them from sharing it no matter how damaging it may be to you.

Spreading False Information

There are laws against slander, when someone makes a false spoken statement that damages a person’s reputation, or libel, which is a written false statement that is damaging to a person’s reputation, but it can be difficult to sue someone who has shared personal information about you even if it was done without your consent.

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