A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday revived a lawsuit accusing Alphabet Inc’s Google and several other companies of violating the privacy of children under 13 by tracking their YouTube activity without parental consent in order to send them targeted ads.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Seattle said Congress had no intention of passing the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) to preempt privacy statements based on state laws.
The law gives the FTC and state attorneys general, rather than private plaintiffs, the power to regulate the online collection of personal data from children under 13.
The lawsuit alleges that Google’s data collection violated similar state laws and that YouTube content providers such as Hasbro, Mattel, Cartoon Network and DreamWorks Animation lured children to their channels knowing they would be tracked.
In July 2021, U.S. District Judge Beth Rabson Freeman dismissed the lawsuit, saying federal privacy laws take precedence over plaintiffs’ claims under the laws of California, Colorado, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Tennessee. claims.
But in Wednesday’s 3-0 decision, Circuit Judge Margaret McKeown said the wording of the federal law makes it “absurd” to assume Congress intends to bar plaintiffs from invoking state law against the same allegation of misconduct .
The case was returned to Freeman to consider other grounds that Google and the content provider might have to dismiss.
Lawyers for Google and the content providers did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Lawyers for the children did not immediately respond to similar requests.
In October 2019, Google agreed to pay $170 million (roughly Rs. 14 billion) to settle allegations by the FTC and New York Attorney General Letitia James that YouTube illegally collected personal data from children without parental consent.
Plaintiffs in the San Francisco case say Google did not begin to comply with COPPA until January 2020.
Their lawsuit seeks compensation for YouTube users aged 16 and under between July 2013 and April 2020.
The case is Jones et al. v. Google LLC et al., US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, No. 21-16281.
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