Comcast Sued for Disclosing Customer Information

Comcast Corp. the top U.S. cable television network operator, is being sued by a Seattle-area woman for disclosing her name and contact information, court records showed on Thursday.

In a lawsuit filed in King County, Washington, Dawnell Leadbetter said that she was contacted by a debt collection agency in January and told to pay a $4,500 for downloading copyright-protected music or face a lawsuit for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Leadbetter, a mother of two teenage children, was a customer of Comcast's high-speed Internet access service. The company, Settlement Support Center LLC, based in Washington state, was using information that the Recording Industry of Association of America had obtained in a Philadelphia lawsuit over the illegal sharing of digital music files, said Lory Lybeck, the lawyer representing Leadbetter.

But no court authorized Comcast to release names and addresses of its customers, or notified his client that her information had been given to an outside party, Lybeck said. "Comcast should respect the rights of privacy who pay them monthly bills," Lybeck said. Representatives from Comcast said they could not immediately comment on the lawsuit.

The RIAA has filed thousands of lawsuits since September and settled several hundred for about $3,000 each.

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: If, in fact, Comcast was legally subpoened for the information, then they _had_ to give it out, or face penalties themselves. I assume that is the case, but you'd think they would have told their customer about it. When the attorney stated that 'no court had authorized the release', I suppose that's what the subpoena did: the subpoena acts as the limited authorization does it not? PAT]
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Lisa Minter
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