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Opt-out means opt-out: Helpful but unwanted texts cost Outcome Health $2.9 million

Most people who get in trouble for texts do so for sending sexual material or threats, but Outcome Health will pay $2.9 million for telling patients "Eat a healthy breakfast" and "Plate your food!"

The problem with these messages is that recipients couldn't make them stop, and Outcome or its automated systems ignored all pleas to do so.

Fierce Healthcare reports Outcome Health agreed to pay $2.9 million "to settle a class-action lawsuit claiming the company continued to send automated text messages to users despite repeated requests to opt out of the service."

The legal complaint reveals the original victim subscribed in 2015 to “CMH Nutrition Tips” from Outcome Health (known at the time as ContextMedia Health), a company that does consumer communications for doctors' offices such as closed-circuit health programing for waiting rooms and SMS (short message service) messages, with the understanding that she could opt out by texting back "STOP" after a message.

But "since that date," her complaint says, "and despite no less than 25 attempts to opt out of the text messages using ‘STOP’, variations on the word ‘STOP,’ and some particularly clever ‘STOP’ puns" -- on January 10, 2016, for example, she texted "STOP STOP STOP FOR THE LOVE OF GOD STOP" -- "the text messages have continued on a near-daily basis…"

Among the specific messages of which she complained: “Eat a healthy breakfast, and smaller meals throughout the day. This will help keep your energy up and your metabolism going" and "Did you know that mushrooms are the only source of vitamin D in the produce aisle?”

The plaintiff claimed specific injuries under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act including “Device storage" ("Text messages necessarily take up storage space on cellular telephones and because Defendant’s text messages did so without prior express consent, they constitute concrete injury"), "Lost time reading... and deleting the unwanted texts," and "Invasion of Privacy." She further demanded on behalf of herself and Class members similarly affected "at least $500 per text message after sending a 'STOP' message" and "$1,500 per text message after sending a 'STOP' message if Defendant’s behavior was willful or knowing."

Blog Tags: Privacy, security
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