Dispute over Internet data collection splits US high court

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court seems divided over whether Internet search sites can be sued for publishing false information about people if the errors don't cause any real harm.

The justices appeared to split along ideological lines Monday during arguments in a case that pits business groups concerned about exposure to costly litigation against consumer protection advocates who want companies held accountable for mistakes.

The case involves Spokeo.com, a data collection site that compiles financial and personal information about people and lets subscribers view the profiles. Virginia resident Thomas Robins sued the company for misstating his age, education, employment and marital status.

A lower court said Robins could not sue because the errors were harmless. But a federal appeals court said it was enough that Spokeo violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

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