A website that is seeking to hook up singles who suffer from sexually transmitted diseases, was fined after not protecting the privacy of its customers.
The operator of PositiveSingles.com was fined $16.5 million after losing a lawsuit brought by a man of California.
PositiveSingles was accused of sharing photos and details of its site profiles with other dating services, despite the promise of 100 percent confidentiality.
A jury found that the company had broken consumer laws.
It also decided that the business was guilty of fraud, malice and oppression.
The lawsuit was filed after the unidentified plaintiff sued the parent company, SuccessfulMatch, as part of a class action lawsuit.
SuccessfulMatch runs a number of niche dating sites and also runs an affiliate program for those wishing to create their own dating sites.
It provides software and databases that contain the details of hundreds of thousands of profiles recorded at their existing sites.
The plaintiff however, acknowledged that after completing a registration page, a link to the terms of service indicated that the profile details could be shared with other sites within the SuccessfulMatch network.
However, he suggested that few members ever click or read through the terms.
The plaintiff was not aware that the defendant was publishing his profile on other dating websites, which specialize in diseases that he does not suffer from, the plaintiff stated in his lawsuit.
The jury agreed that SuccessfulMatch had made misleading statements and ordered it to pay $1.5 million in compensatory damages and another $15 million in punitive damages.