Video Privacy Protection Act Complaint Filed Against MeTV (Gardner, et al. v. MeTV)
Gardner, et al. v. MeTV, 1:22-cv-05963
A class action complaint was filed against MeTV in the Northern District of Illinois at the end of October. Like many complaints of this nature, the allegations arise from MeTV’s use of Facebook Pixel, which purportedly discloses information about the video viewing habits of subscribers.
While the Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”) has been frequently used to combat disclosing personally identifiable biometric information, the Video Privacy Protection Act (“VPPA”) dates back several decades, and it prevents companies from disclosing personally identifiable video viewing history or information.
While sharing aggregate information likely does not run afoul with the Act, the allegation claims that the information distributed with the Pixel includes the IP address, name, email, or phone number of the individual viewer. The data distributed also allegedly includes the individual’s Facebook profile, which can often include a large swath of personal information.
The complaint alleges that user received no information or warning that said information would be distributed to a third party. There was evidently no consent agreement or opt-in, rather it was just the difficult for users. The class action complaint includes three different individuals as the named plaintiffs, one is a citizen of Monrovia, California, one is a citizen of Dayton, Ohio, and one is a citizen of Chicago.
The complaint’s counts arise under the VPPA, a federal law, as well as various state law claims. The complaint also includes a section about the tolling of the statute of limitations, as it outlines that members could not have reasonably discovered MeTV’s practices with the Facebook Pixel prior to the beginning of the litigation.
Count one alleges a violation of the VPPA, on behalf of all members of the class. The second count alleges unjust enrichment, on behalf of all members of the class.
This complaint provides an additional example of the privacy and related issues which have continued to be a thorn in the side of corporate actors operating in Illinois. The Facebook Pixel continues to be at the center of much of this litigation, especially when companies fail to disclose its use when it comes to video viewing activity, especially for subscribers.