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SGT in the News: Plaintiff-Appellants Finish Briefing in Appeal of Ruling in YouTube Privacy Class Action
April 28, 2022
As Christina Tabacco of Law Street Media recently reported, individuals representing their children in SGT's action against Google LLC, YouTube LLC, and "channel owners" such as The Cartoon Network, DreamWorks Animation, and Hasbro Studios have filed a reply brief asking the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to revive the case seeking redress for "the deliberate violation of the privacy rights of millions of young children." District Court Judge Beth L. Freeman previously rejected the action on preemption grounds last July.
SGT's action specifically alleges that Google, YouTube, and 11 of their business partners secretly obtained access to children's personal online identifying information, which Google then reportedly used to track and profile their online activities to develop highly lucrative "behavioral advertising" aimed at individual children.
The plaintiffs brought SGT's action alleging damages and injunctive relief claims for invasion of privacy, unjust enrichment, consumer protection violations, and unfair business practices on behalf of themselves and other children in California, Colorado, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Tennessee.
In summer 2021, Judge Freeman ruled against the plaintiffs in two separate opinions, finding the state law claims expressly preempted by the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Judge Freeman ruled that COPPA assigns enforcement authority to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state attorneys general, thus precluding a private right of action. The plaintiffs appealed in August 2021.
The plaintiffs argue that Google's primary argument is flawed, as it disregards the COPPA's plain language and "established principles of statutory construction." They also contend that if accepted, Google's contention would have the undesirable effect of using a law designed to protect children from the ills of the internet to deprive them of "longstanding state law protections."
The plaintiffs are represented by Silver Golub & Teitell LLP. Google and YouTube are represented by Hogan Lovells US LLP.