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FL Abortion Clinic Files Class-Action Suit Against CompuServe

The Aware Woman Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Florida filed suit against CompuServe, TML Information Services, and several anti-abortion activists in January for violating the rights of clinic patients and staff. The clinic has now filed a second, federal class-action suit.

CompuServe and TML Information Services are charged with offering anti-abortion activists a service that allowed them to obtain personal information about clinic staff and patients. Plaintiff’s attorney Roy Lucas explained that anti-abortion activists use cameras, binoculars, and other devices to record the license plate numbers of cars entering and leaving clinics. The license plate numbers were then used to find personal information about the license holders using TML and Compuserve services. “Probably 1,000 patients who live in the southern district had their license plates copied and were contacted without their consent,” stated Lucas.

Lucas argues that Compuserve and TML’s “spy database services” were sold in violation of a federal law known as the Driver’s Privacy Information Act. Compuserve stopped offering the service on January 15, 1998, four months after the Driver’s Privacy Information Act was enacted. The Act prohibits the disclosure of personal information found in motor vehicle registration records except to insurers and law enforcement personnel. “This stalking-like surveillance has been for no motor vehicle or traffic safety purpose — and utterly without the consent of any such persons, who are in fact outraged, violated, and seriously damaged by these intrusions,” read the clinic’s complaint.

Sources:

ZD Net News - March/April 1999 and Feminist News - January 6, 1999