Google, Viacom Beat 3rd Cir. Video Privacy Appeal

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By Daniel R. Stoller

June 27 — Google Inc. and Viacom Inc. don't have to face claims that they allegedly collected children's personal information online, including their internet protocol addresses, in violation of the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA), a federal appeals court ruled June 27 ( In re Nickelodeon Consumer Privacy Litig., 2016 BL 204767, 3d Cir., No. 15-1441, 6/27/2016 ).

Judge Julio Fuentes of the U.S. Circuit Court Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that the VPPA, 18 U.S.C. § 2710, only applies to people who disclose personally identifiable information (PII) and not those who receive the information. In dismissing the VPPA claims against Google, the court said the company isn't “alleged to have disclosed any such information.”

Additionally, the court held that PII under the VPPA is “information that would readily permit an ordinary person to identify a specific individual's video-watching behavior.” Because the VPPA definition of PII doesn't include IP addresses, the court dismissed the claims against Viacom.

According to the original complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New Jersey, consumers claimed Viacom compiled unique electronic identifying information about children who used the website, sending that data to Google. The consumers also alleged that Viacom put text files known as cookies on computers to gather data it shared with Google, and both companies targeted children for advertising.

Viacom, however, will still have to face New Jersey state claims from the alleged collection of children's personal information. The court allowed the state claims because consumers adequately alleged under New Jersey law that Viacom's use of computer cookies to gather data on users was highly offensive.

Barnes & Associates; Campbell & Levine; Eichen, Crutchlow, Zaslow & McElroy; Bartimus, Frickleton, Robertson & Gorney; Goldenberg, Heller, Antognoli & Rowland; and Lubel Voyles represent the appellant consumers.

Debevoise & Plimpton and Blank Rome represent appellee Viacom. Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati and Sills, Cummins & Gross represent appellee Google.

With assistance from David Voreacos in Newark, N.J.

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel R. Stoller in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Donald G. Aplin at ; George R. Lynch at

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