United States District Court, D. Columbia.
For ETHEL AUSTIN-SPEARMAN, Plaintiff: Alicia E. Hwang, Benjamin S. Thomassen, Jay Edelson, Rafey S. Balabanian, LEAD ATTORNEYS, PRO HAC VICE, EDELSON PC, Chicago, IL; Maria Christina Simon, THE GELLER LAW GROUP, PLLC, Fairfax, VA.
For AARP, AARP SERVICES INC., Defendants: Thomas E. Gilbertsen, LEAD ATTORNEY, Michael P. Bracken, VENABLE LLP, Washington, DC.
KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, United States District Judge.
Plaintiff Ethel Austin-Spearman is an internet savvy woman. According to her complaint, she became a member of Facebook's social network in 2007, and she frequently accesses that website and others through the web browser on her computer. ( See Am. Compl., ECF No. 23, ¶ ¶ 71-72.) Moreover, whenever Austin-Spearman registers for a new online service, she diligently reads the website's
A. Plaintiff's Allegations
In late 2010, longtime Facebook member and an experienced internet user Austin-Spearman navigated to www.aarp.org to learn about AARP membership. ( See Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 72-73.) The AARP is an organization that advocates for people over the age of 50; the fee that one pays to become an AARP member supports the organization's lobbying and litigation efforts, and AARP members also have access to " discounts on shopping, dining, and travel as well as financial and insurance-related products and services." ( Id. ¶ 1.) A person who is 50 years of age or older can become a member of the AARP by mailing in a paper form along with the
requisite membership fee, or by purchasing a membership online, through the AARP's website. ( See id. ¶ ¶ 19, 23.) Paid AARP members may then opt to establish an online account with the organization, which is accomplished by creating login credentials--a user name and password--and also by " enter[ing] their demographic information (first name, last name, country, zip code, and birthday) on AARP's website." ( Id. ¶ 23.) Notably, the AARP's website is set up such that any person can create an online AARP account without first becoming an AARP member; however, AARP members must register online if they wish to access certain discounts and special offers that are available to AARP members only through the member's AARP online account. ( See id. ¶ ¶ 2, 20.)
[w]hen you join AARP, we collect basic information such as your name, contact information, preferences and date of birth. We collect information about your participation in AARP activities, including member services and discounts obtained by using your membership card.
AARP also collects information on our website. We collect both information that identifies you as a particular individual (" personally identifiable information" ) and anonymous information that is not associated with a specific individual (" nonpersonally identifiable information" ). When you visit our website, some information may be collected automatically as part of the site's operation. We also collect information we receive from you during online registration and when you complete other forms.
( See also Am. Compl. ¶ 27.) The next section of the policy (Section 4) addresses " Information Collected By Third Parties" --it is the first paragraph of Section 4 that is the basis for the allegations made in Austin-Spearman's complaint:
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