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SGT in the News: 9th Circuit Revives SGT Class Action Against Google, YouTube, and YouTube Channel Owners
December 28, 2022
On December 28, 2022, a panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled SGT’s lawsuit brought on behalf of millions child YouTube watchers accusing Google, YouTube, and various children’s entertainment companies that operate YouTube channels of illegally tracking children online shall proceed.
United States District Court Judge Beth L. Freeman had dismissed plaintiffs’ claims as preempted by the federal statutory scheme established by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”), 15 U.S.C. §§ 6501–6506 and related FTC rules. Specifically, the question SGT’s appeal presented was:
“[W]hether COPPA preempts state law claims based on underlying conduct that also violates COPPA’s regulations”
SGT founding partner David S. Golub argued, and the Ninth Circuit agreed, that COPPA’s preemption clause did not prohibit holding parties liable for state law violations if their conduct also violated COPPA. In other words, according to the Ninth Circuit, if the same conduct violates both COPPA and state privacy laws, nothing in COPPA’s preemption clause prohibits punishing a party for violations of both:
We hold that COPPA’s preemption clause does not bar state-law causes of action that are parallel to, or proscribe the same conduct forbidden by, COPPA.
The Ninth Circuit remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with its decision. Various news outlets, including Bloomberg Law and Reuters have covered the decision. The case is Jones v. Google LLC, 9th Cir., No. 21-16281, 12/28/22 and the decision is available here.