Matthew Sandofsky says his name is worth something, and that he's tired of Google making a profit off it, so he's suing the company for the $1,000 he says it owes him - and every other American whose names can be found on a search results page.
In a suit filed today in US District Court in Boston, Sandofsky alleges that Google search-result pages on individuals should be covered by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, which sets some restrictions on how a company can disseminate a credit report.
Sandofsky argues that a search-results page is actually a "credit report" because a common use of Googling somebody is to determine whether to hire or do business with that person, and so is covered by the federal law, which covers "any written, oral or other communication of any information by a consumer reporting agency bearing on a consumer's credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living" that is used to determine whether a consumer is worth doing business with.
Google violates a provision of the act which requires it to use "reasonable procedures" to check the validity or accuracy of any information it uses about a person, and, he charges, Google just doesn't do that. Google, he adds, also fails, as required by the law, to notify people who are seeking jobs that it's providing information to others about them or let them refuse to allow that information to be distributed. It also doesn't have a way for people to correct inaccurate information about them stored by Google and displayed on a search-results page, as required by the act, he alleges.
This is all quite reckless, he continues, and merits a class-action suit, for which he proposes to be the lead plaintiff, and which seeks redress of both correction of the issues and a $1,000 payment to everybody in the class, which is pretty much every adult in the US, plus damages and lawyers' fees.
Defendant presently produces search results associated with Plaintiff's name upon request, without permission, and for profit.
To get to a jury, Sandofsky will have to convince a judge that he has personally been hurt by Google's practices. A Google search on Matthew Sandofsky, however brings up only 37 results, several of which appear to be about other people named Matthew Sadowsky, and none of which have any negative connotations, save one link to a page with a vague reference to an arrest of one Matthew Sandofsky in Riverside, CA, but with no information on it to prove it's this Matthew Sandofsky, rather than one of the other Matthew Sandofskys in the US, let alone what the arrest was for.
It is only on turning to other Internet-accessible databases, for example, the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers attorney loookup, that one would even learn a searcher that Sadofsky joined the bar on Nov. 13, 2019.
Editor's note: The number of links generated with a "Matthew Sandofsky" search was accurate before this article was posted. Google is generally pretty quick to index Universal Hub articles, so the number might be up to 38, i.e., a link to this article would be added, by the time you read this.