The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit [official website] on Monday held [opinion, PDF] that Google and Viacom [corporate websites] are not liable for planting “cookies” on children’s computers to gather data for advertisers. In a class action lawsuit, parents claim [complaint, PDF] that the companies are illegally collecting data [Reuters report] about children who watch videos and play video games on the Nickelodeon [corporate website] website. Writing for the court, Circuit Judge Julio Fuentes found that the court’s ruling in last year’s In Re Google Cookie Placement [text] foreclosed many of the plaintiff’s claims, and that the Video Privacy Protection Act [text] was not violated as it was meant to thwart the collection of data to help monitor people’s video-watching, not to cover the collection of data such as IP addresses and settings. Fuentes also wrote the opinion last November finding that Google was not liable under federal privacy laws for bypassing cookie blockers on browsers. The ruling preserves a state law privacy claim against Viacom only, alleging that it collected data on the site despite an express statement that it would not do so.
Google has come under scrutiny for its privacy policies and is currently facing worldwide suits over alleged violations. In December the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed [JURIST report] a personal privacy violation complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) [official website] against Google. In February 2014 a French court ruled [JURIST report] that Google must display on its French page that they have been fined by the local data-protection watchdog for how they store user information. In January 2014 the UK High Court ruled [JURIST report] that Google can be sued by British citizens. In November 2013 the Dutch Data Protection Agency (DPA) stated that Google was in violation [JURIST report] of the country’s data protection act. Earlier that month a Berlin court held that 25 of Google’s privacy policies and terms of service violated [JURIST report] Germany’s data protection law. In September 2013, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied Google’s motion to dismiss [JURIST report] a lawsuit regarding the company’s alleged violation of federal law.