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Google and Viacom Win Suit Over Tracking Children Online

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. | Last updated on

The nationwide class action suit that involved Google and Nickelodeon allegedly tracking our innocent, innocent children was largely defeated by the defending companies recently. The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit felt that planting cookies on children's computers and devices didn't run afoul of both state and federal laws, at least not the ones the parents identified.

It wasn't a complete victory for Viacom, Nickelodeon's parent company, though. The federal court allowed one privacy claim against the entertainment company stand as it had collected children's information despite promises not to do so. It looks like completely fibbing parents still isn't kosher in corporate America.

Another Round of Victories

In case you've forgotten, the Third Circuit previously found, late last year, that Google was not liable under the federal privacy laws for skirting Apple's Safari's cookie blocker -- same for the cookie blocker on Internet Explorer. Cookies must live on!

In the current case, Circuit Judge Julio Fuentes (who wrote the previous decision too) said that the previous ruling was the writing on the wall for any parents' claims against the defendant companies.

Video Privacy Protection Act

The judge rejected the plaintiffs' theory that the Viacom-Google relationship violated the 1988 Video Privacy Protection Act. That law was quickly brought into existence in 1988, over fears that people's video watching habits were being tracked when patronizing shops like Blockbuster Video.

Although the law was recently amended, Judge Fuentes declared that Congress never intended it to apply to the collection of users' IP address browser settings and other features that did not exist at the time of the bill. He argued that the kinds of personal user information disclosures made between the companies were "too far afield" from the proper application of the law to trigger liability.

The privacy issue was remanded back to the lower court to be determined on the merits.

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