Streaming Services Video Privacy Violation Claims

Streaming Services Video Privacy Violation Claims

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Streaming Services Video Privacy Violation Claims

Multiple streaming services have been accused of violating consumers' privacy rights by disclosing their private data, including their video viewing history, to Facebook® via the pixel tool without their consent, which could be a violation of federal law, including the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA)18 U.S.C. § 2710. Enacted in 1988, VPPA was initially passed to protect the video viewing histories of customers of brick-and-mortar video rental providers.

However, as video content has moved online, more recently, litigants have sought to extend the VPPA to streaming services, as well as any site offering video content, with consumer products companies, university sports programs, and health services websites. Many consumers may not realize that their private information is collected by popular streaming services like Disney+®, Paramount+®, and ESPN+® every time they watch a video on one of the provided platforms.

Federal law requires companies to obtain written consent from customers in order to share their video-watching information with third parties. In the last year, more than 80 VPPA class action lawsuits have been filed, asserting that the pixel tool, a code created by Facebook® to allow companies to measure and monitor the actions users take on a given website, violates the VPPA by tracking a user's viewing history and other protected personal information.

If you believe you or a loved one has had their VPPA rights violated, we may be able to help you. To see if you qualify, complete our free case review today.

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Get answers to commonly asked questions about our legal services and learn how we may assist you with your case.

  • Those eligible for a claim must:
    • Have a Facebook® or Instagram® account

    • Have a subscription to one or more of the following platforms:

      • Hulu®

      • Disney+®

      • Starz®

      • ESPN+®

      • Paramount+®

    • Used a web browser to stream content on the above platforms between October 2021-April 2023

  • Under VPPA, it is unlawful for a "video tape service provider" to knowingly disclose, to any person, "personally identifiable information" concerning any "consumer" of such provider without their consent and with a few exceptions. Since its enactment in 1988, the way people consume media has changed significantly, primarily moving away from "video tapes" and onto streaming platforms.
    To understand the statute's current significance more clearly and how the courts have interpreted the VPPA, below we have broken down "video tape service provider," "personally identifiable information," and "consumer."

    Video Tape Service Provider
    According to VPPA, a "video tape service provider" is defined as "any person engaged in the business, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, of rental, sale, or delivery of prerecorded video cassette tapes or similar audio visual materials." As mentioned, due to the change in materials and platforms used to consume certain forms of media, the phrase "similar audio-video materials" is now interpreted by courts to encompass online videos, such as pre-recorded videos streaming on websites. However, live-streaming video content is excluded from the VPPA protections.

    "Consumer" is defined as any renter, purchaser, or subscriber of goods or services from a videotape service provider. In some cases, courts require a form of ongoing relationship or commitment between the user and the entity that owns and operates the media platform. Typically, this would fall under a form of "subscription." However, the level of commitment requirements may vary.

    Personally Identifiable Information
    "Personally identifiable information" or "PII" involves the information that can identify a person as having requested or obtained specific video materials or services from a video tape service provider. As it relates to VPPA claims, PII includes information which identifies a person as having requested or obtained specific video materials or services from a video tape service provider including a consumers Facebook® ID and potentially GPS coordinates. Over time, the information that constitutes PII has evolved and incorporated newer state privacy laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act, which gives consumers more control over the personal information that businesses collect about them.

  • The claims filed against certain streaming platforms allege that the companies knowingly disclosed their consumers' protected information via Facebook's® embedded Pixel code. Some companies accused of violating their customer's VPPA rights include Hulu®, Disney+®, Paramount+®, ESPN+® and Starz®. If you are a subscriber to any of the previously mentioned streaming platforms, you may have had your VPPA rights violated. For more information, connect with an attorney today.

  • When users watch a video on a website, the provider has the ability to not only collect but share your viewing history and other personal data with third parties. The data collected, while valuable to the company, may be illegal. Companies that share your personal data without your knowledge or consent may infringe on a user's VPPA rights, which means you may be eligible to file a claim. If you suspect your personal data was shared with third parties without your consent, you may be eligible to file a claim. To see if you qualify, complete our free case review today.

  • Courts may award consumers up to $2,500 in liquidated damages per VPPA violation. If you believe your private information has been exploited by an online streaming platform such as Hulu®, Disney+®, Paramount+®, ESPN+® and Starz®, you may be eligible to recover financial compensation. You can learn more today about the VPPA and what you may be eligible to recover by contacting a Morgan & Morgan attorney.

  • Your attorney will work with experts and have access to the largest resources in America to ensure you have the best odds at recovering what you are entitled to after a major streaming platform violates your rights. For over 35 years, our law firm has helped our clients fight back against major companies that would look to use their private data for their own personal gain, and we want to help you too.
    For more information about VPPA and how you may be eligible to recover financial compensation, contact a Morgan & Morgan attorney today by completing our free, no-obligation case evaluation today.

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