More than 3,000 Philadelphians took their city to court as part of a class action lawsuit alleging that their personal information was either publicized online or could have been made public through flaws in the city’s system.
According to court records, each defendant affected had his or her name, address, and the reason for obtaining a gun permit posted to a website for four days in the summer of 2012. The information was included as part of a map detailing which individuals in the city sought a permit from the Department of Licenses and Inspections.
“Some people listed ‘I carry large sums of money at night’ as part of their appeal and that wound up online,” explained attorney Benjamin Picker. “This is obviously a public safety issue.”
The city agreed to pay a total of $1.425 million to the 3,265 plaintiffs in the case. Some may consider the agreement a pyrrhic victory, however, as those who suffered the greatest privacy breach will walk away with a maximum of $450. More than 1,000 involved will receive a check for $25.
Beyond the financial aspect, however, the city did agree to some policy changes in its handling of gun permits. Applicants can now be assured that their personal information will not be made public, and they will no longer be required to provide the department references prior to the appeals process.
Furthermore, anyone denied a permit will receive a refund of the application fee.
The office of Mayor Michael Nutter issued a statement explaining that Philadelphia admits no wrongdoing in accepting the settlement.
“The City could have faced a financial exposure of many millions more than the actual settlement,” spokesperson Mark McDonald asserted.
While Picker contended that plaintiffs deserved restitution for the incident, he acknowledged that Philadelphia likely had no intention to harm its citizens.
“They probably didn’t realize that it was against the law to put this information out there,” he said.
According to reports, the data was scrubbed from the site as soon as local police were made aware of its publication.
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This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom