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Judicial panel consolidates lawsuits against AT&T over data breaches

An AT&T retail store.
An AT&T retail store. (Handout photo courtesy AT&T, Graphic by The Desk)

A federal judicial panel has chosen the Northern District of Texas as the venue that will hear a consortium of lawsuits brought against AT&T by consumers over a recently-disclosed data breach.

The lawsuits were filed in various district courts across the country after AT&T affirmed the personal information of more than 70 million current and former subscribers was available on a shadowy portion of the Internet referred to as the “dark web.”

The information apparently originated from a database used by AT&T back in 2019. It wasn’t clear when AT&T was made aware of the breach, but it disclosed the incident to customers in a notice sent in late March.

Around 65 million former AT&T subscribers were impacted by the breach, AT&T said. Another 7.9 million current customers are also affected.

More than two dozen consumer lawsuits followed, with common complaints that blamed AT&T for lackluster security practices regarding the collection and storage of customer information that opened the door for hackers to steal, and later leak, the data.

Last week, a federal panel tasked with weighing in on multidistrict matters said the lawsuits would be consolidated into a single case, which will be heard in the Northern District of Texas. The venue was chosen because AT&T’s headquarters are based in Dallas, which falls within that court’s jurisdiction. Fierce Network was the first to report on the action.

AT&T has offered credit monitoring to current and former customers who were impacted by the breach. The lawsuits, now consolidated into a single class-action case, could also open the door for financial remuneration if AT&T is found liable or the case is settled.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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