A Hudson Valley man who rents videos from TLA Entertainment Group Inc., a gay and lesbian cinema distributor, is suing the company for at least $5 million for selling personal information to data brokers.
Dennis Chiamulera of New Windsor filed a class-action lawsuit against TLA Entertainment Group on Oct. 15 in federal court in White Plains.
“TLA disclosed its consumers’ personal viewing information – including their sexual orientation and adult film preferences that can reveal intimate facts about our lives, from our political and religious beliefs to our health concerns – to anybody willing to pay for it,” the lawsuit states.
TLA did not respond to an email asking for comment.
The Philadelphia company touts itself as the “leading one-stop shopping destination for gay-themed cinema and television.” It is LGBT-owned and operated, according to its website, and it offers a “variety of discreet shipping methods.”
But Chiamulera claims that TLA is not so discreet about how it uses customer information.
TLA allegedly discloses names, addresses, sexual orientation and personal viewing information to data brokers.
Brokers often compile information from several sources to develop detailed dossiers on American consumers, according to the complaint, including age, race, sex, marital status, education, politics, buying habits and health concerns.
NextMark Inc., a mailing list broker, sells TLA customer data to advertisers, nonprofit organizations and other third-party companies, the lawsuit states. NextMark is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
An advertiser, for instance, could buy the personal viewing information of “straight buyers” of pornographic videos, or gay men who live in Texas.
The data disclosures pose a threat to privacy, the complaint states, result in a barrage of junk mail, and put “particularly vulnerable members of society” within reach of fraudulent telemarketers and criminals.
Chiamulera claims that TLA does not provide written notice of its practices, ask customers for permission to use their information or offer a way of opting out.
That violates the federal Video Privacy Protection Act, he says, and the New York State Video Consumer Privacy Act.
Chiamulera wants the court to certify as a class all individuals whose personal information has been disclosed by TLA to third parties without their consent. He is asking for damages of $2,500 per person under the federal law and $500 per person from New York.
Chiamulera is represented by Philip L. Fraietta and Joseph I. Marchese of Bursor & Fisher PA of Manhattan.