The courts have ruled in favor of Viacom, Inc. (NASDAQ:VIAB) and Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) in a lawsuit filed against them on account of collecting personal data from children under the age of 13.
The lawsuit was filed in Federal court by consumers concerned about online privacy, and they argued that the two firms have been keeping track of webpages viewed by children and the content that they watched. They pay particular attention to a web domain called Nick.com and cookies used on that site. The case was handled by a panel of three judges who ruled in favor of Alphabet and Viacom similar to a ruling that the same court passed for a case against Alphabet. The three judges based their decision on the ruling made in last year’s lawsuit against Alphabet and thus the appeal made through the lawsuit was thrown out.
Attorney Jay Barnes represented the parents who brought the case against Alphabet and Viacom claiming that the two firms have disregarded the Video Privacy Act of 1988. Judge Julio Fuentes, who was a member of the three judge panel, stated that the law was set up to prevent the monitoring of people’s viewing behavior as a data collection method. The Judge thus argued that the Act does not cover the monitoring of people’s internet use. The Judge noted that some of the regulations predate the current technology while others do not trigger liability because their intent was not motivated by malicious intent.
Judge Fuentes also stated that a jury would determine whether Viacom violated its promise not to collect information on children or sell it to advertisers based on how offensive it is to reasonable individuals. The company has stated on its website that it does not collect personal data from children and that it cannot sell such information even if it intended to do so. The case has been reverted to the New Jersey District Court Judge for further analysis. The judicial ruling states that other factors such as IP addresses do not fall under the same Act.