Names Held Hostage Online, Class Claims

     INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (CN) – Operators of the website charge people to remove false information about them from its Internet postings, a class action claims in Missouri.
     Lead plaintiff Terracazeno Talbert sued the John or Jane Doe owner of, in Jackson County Circuit Court.
     Talbert says in the complaint that is a self-proclaimed national sex offender registry, though it is not affiliated with federal government or any other agency.
     Users can search by name or by state and see photos and profile pages which publish alleged sex offenders’ addresses, birth date and offenses, Talbert says.
     “The website encourages viewers to report ‘erroneous information’ that may be contained on the website,” the complaint states.
     But he says: “Defendant Doe refuses to remove unsubstantiated, erroneous information from the website or profile pages contained in the directory unless a user pays for such removal.”
     Talbert claims the website has a link to request removal of information, but to do so costs $79 to $299. For $79 the information will be removed within 45 days; for $99 within 25 days; for $199 within six days; and for $299 within 24 hours, according to the complaint.
     Talbert claim he never has been convicted of a sex offense, but has a “profile” of him Talbert, containing his address, birthday, a map from Google Maps pinpointing his home, and a picture of him with the words “sex offender in” posted across it.
     Talbert claims family members have seen the profile and he had to tell his employer about the false information.
     “Plaintiff has suffered emotional damages in the form of humiliation, sadness, increased stress, anxiety, sleeping problems, and a lack of focus as a result of defendants’ actions,” the complaint states.
     Talbert claims he paid $199 to have his name removed from the website. But even after paying the fee, Talbert says, his name continues to be associated with the website and can be found listed under hyperlinks in search results using his name.
     The class consists of all Missourians who have had false information posted on and who have been forced to pay for the removal of that information within the past five years.
     Defendants include Special Domain Services, Go Daddy Operating Co., Domains by Proxy and its president and manager. Talbert claims the co-defendants allow defendant Doe to register websites through them anonymously.
     He seeks an injunction requiring them to release Doe’s information, and punitive damages for violations of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, unjust enrichment, conspiracy, and punitive damages from Doe for false light invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation.
     He is represented by Anne Schiavone with Holman Schiavone of Kansas City, Mo.

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