On Wednesday, a US appeals court reinstated a lawsuit accusing Alphabet Inc.’s (GOOGL.O) Google and a number of other businesses of violating the privacy of children under the age of 13 by tracking their YouTube activity without parental consent and using that information to send them personalised advertising.
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 it was not intended to pre-empt state law-based privacy concerns.
The Federal Trade Commission, state attorneys general, but not private plaintiffs, are given the power to control the online collection of personal information about children under the age of 13 by this law.
In the case, it was alleged that Hasbro Inc. (HAS.O), Mattel Inc. (MAT.O), the Cartoon Network (WBD.O), and DreamWorks Animation (CMCSA.O), among other YouTube content producers, enticed kids to their channels knowing that they would be followed.
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 California, Colorado, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Tennessee were preempted by the federal privacy legislation.
Circuit Judge Margaret McKeown, however, ruled in a 3-0 decision 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 malfeasance.
Requests for response from Google’s and the content producers’ attorneys were unanswered right away. Similar pleas went unanswered by the attorneys for the children.