A federal judge has dismissed claims that YouTube, Hasbro, the Cartoon Network and other companies violated children’s privacy by allegedly tracking them in order to serve them with targeted ads.
In a ruling which was issued on Monday, U.S. district court judge Beth Labson Freeman in San Jose said that the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act doesn’t allow for private lawsuits, hence children’s representatives couldn’t proceed with the case.
This decision has taken from a lawsuit, which was brought by Nicole Hubbard, a resident of California. The lawsuit was filed against YouTube and various companies, who own channels on video platforms, Hasbro, the Cartoon Network, Mattel, and DreamWorks.
Hubbard claimed in class action complaint, that her 5-year-old child, watched YouTube channels aimed at children — including Ryan ToysReview, Hasbro’s “My Little Pony Official,” and CookieSwirlC. Who was identified only as “C.H.,”
Hubbard sued around two months after Google agreed to pay $170 million to settle allegations by the Federal Trade Commission and New York Attorney General that YouTube violated the federal children’s privacy law by collecting data from YouTube viewers younger than 13.
Hubbard’s complaint, later joined by other parents, focused on California state law claims, including “intrusion upon seclusion” — a broad privacy concept that involves “highly offensive” conduct.
But Google and the other companies successfully argued that the gist of the complaint stemmed from the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which prohibits online companies from collecting personal data from children younger than 13, without their parents’ permission.
That law allows for enforcement actions by the Federal Trade Commission and state officials, but not private citizens.
Freeman agreed with the companies that the privacy claims at the heart of the lawsuit were all premised on the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, and were therefore precluded by that law.
“The plain text of the statute clearly indicates Congress’s desire to expressly pre-empt plaintiffs’ state law claims,” she wrote.
Freeman noted in her ruling that a federal appellate court — the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals — allowed children’s representatives to proceed with privacy claims against Viacom, which allegedly let Google set tracking cookies on Nick.com. But the complaint, in that case, included claims that Nick.com deceived web users by telling them it doesn’t collect personal information about kids.
Freeman said Hubbard’s complaint against YouTube lacked similar allegations of deceptive conduct.
“The complaint does not explain what is deceptive about Google’s collecting of data or grapple with whether Google’s data collection policies have been properly disclosed,” Freeman wrote.
She added that the complaint doesn’t allege that Hasbro and the other companies that ran channels on YouTube either collected data themselves or were deceptive.
Freeman’s dismissal order was without prejudice, meaning that Hubbard and the other parents can revise their claims and bring them again within 30 days.