Google and YouTube content providers must face a children’s privacy lawsuit in the United States

Google and YouTube content providers must face a children’s privacy lawsuit in the United States

The resurrected lawsuit alleges Google, YouTube, and other businesses violated children’s privacy by monitoring behaviour.

On Wednesday, a US appeals court reinstated a lawsuit alleging Google, owned by Alphabet Inc., and a number of other businesses of violating the privacy of children under the age of 13 by monitoring their YouTube activity without parental approval and sending them targeted advertisements.

The federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, was adopted by Congress, according to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Seattle, but Congress did not intend to pre-empt state law-based privacy concerns.

It grants the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general the power to control the online collection of personal information regarding children under the age of 13, but not private plaintiffs.

The lawsuit claimed that YouTube video producers like Hasbro Inc., Mattel Inc., the Cartoon Network, and DreamWorks Animation enticed youngsters to their channels knowing that they would track them in violation of similar state laws.

The action was dismissed in July 2021 by US District Judge Beth Labson Freeman in San Francisco, who ruled that the plaintiffs’ claims under the laws of Tennessee, California, Colorado, Indiana, Massachusetts, and other states were preempted by the federal privacy legislation.

However, Circuit Judge Margaret McKeown said in a 3-0 judgement on Wednesday that the phrasing of the federal law made it “nonsensical” to believe that Congress meant to prevent the plaintiffs from relying on state laws that address the same alleged misbehaviour.

Freeman was given the case back to explore any other defences Google and the content producers could have against it.

Requests for comment from Google’s and the content providers’ attorneys were not immediately fulfilled. Similar queries received no quick response from the children’s attorneys.

In response to complaints from the FTC and New York Attorney General Letitia James that YouTube had improperly gathered children’s personal information without their parent’s permission, Google agreed to pay $170 million in a settlement in October 2019.

According to the plaintiffs in the San Francisco lawsuit, Google did not start adhering to COPPA requirements until January 2020.

For YouTube viewers who were 16 years old or younger between July 2013 and April 2020, their complaint claimed damages.

The case number is 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Case No. 21-16281: Jones et al v. Google LLC et al.

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