State AG Sues Minnesota Public Radio Over List Sharing

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State AG Sues Minnesota Public Radio for Excessive List Sharing

By Mark Hamstra

Minnesota State Attorney General Mike Hatch filed a lawsuit against Minnesota Public Radio, St. Paul, MN, this week, alleging that the station misled its donors about how often it rented or exchanged their names with other groups.

The suit, filed in Ramsey County Court, seeks damages totaling "tens of thousands of dollars," according to reports.

Tony Bol, an MPR spokesman, said the lawsuit is based on wording in MPR's disclosures to its members that their names would "occasionally" be shared with other groups. He said that Hatch might have wrongly assumed that the entire file of 88,000 donors was shared with each of the 100 groups with which MPR has exchanged names with during the past five years. He said that because many groups only wish to rent parts of the donor file, each donor name is shared an average of six times per year. The station also maintains an opt-out file.

"We think the attorney general made errors in his math," said Bol. "Obviously he does not have a very good understanding of the direct marketing industry."

A spokesman at Hatch's office could not be reached for comment.

Hatch also filed a lawsuit this year against a subsidiary of U.S. Bancorp, Minneapolis, alleging that the bank shared customer information with third parties that it previously said it would not share. The bank settled that suit for about $3 million.

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