As reported by Law360, U.S. District Judge James Donato has denied an attempt by Viacom to force a proposed class action alleging widespread violations of child privacy laws into arbitration. The suit accuses Viacom of violating child privacy protection laws by collecting and selling personal identifying information of children who used Viacom’s child-focused mobile aps.
Judge Donato ruled there was no evidence users had ever agreed to or even seen any arbitration provision, since the arbitration disclosure only appeared after a user clicked on a hyperlink labeled “more.” Users could download and play the games without following that additional link.
Judge Donato noted, “Arbitration is a matter of contract, and there can be no contract without an offer and an acceptance. A user cannot accept an offer through silence and inaction where she could not reasonably have known that an offer was ever made to her. That is the situation here, and consequently Viacom’s motion is denied.”
About the Viacom Class Action Child Privacy Violations Lawsuit
The lawsuit is brought by the parent of a child who, while playing Nickelodeon games via smart phone apps, had her personally identifying information exfiltrated by Viacom and its partners for future commercial exploitation in direct violation of the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”), 15 U.S.C. §§ 6501–6506. Plaintiffs also bring their claims under state law to obtain damages and a court injunction forcing the companies to cease these practices and sequester all illegally obtained information.
The lawsuit also names Upsight and Unity, the ad tech companies that embedded software in Viacom’s child-focused Nickelodeon apps to track, collect, and export the children’s personal information. The lawsuit alleges that this software captures children’s personal information along with information about their online behavior, which is then sold to third party companies which track the children’s behavior across multiple apps and devices for subsequent ad targeting.
Lieff Cabraser’s Work in Digital Privacy & Child Data Security
Lieff Cabraser is committed to helping parents protect their children, their privacy, and their children’s information in a world where electronic toys, mobile games, and digital devices with inherent security vulnerabilities are growing more and more pervasive. From voice-controlled home devices that can leak sensitive information to video-recording toys and interactive digital games whose data can be leaked or accessed improperly, our private data — and, in particular, children’s private information — faces a growing risk of exposure and improper sharing. An important part of our work protecting children and their data consists of ensuring that companies obey child data protection laws and take all the required steps to ensure that kids’ data remains secure and private.