Georgia Federal Court held that Disclosing Phone IDs is not a privacy violation because they do not identify consumers

Ellis v. The Cartoon Network, Inc., CIVIL ACTION FILE NO. 1:14-CV-484-TWT., 2014 BL 283139 (N.D. Ga. Oct. 08, 2014)

On October 8, 2014, the Northern District Court of Georgia dismissed a class action brought for violation of the Video Privacy Protection Act (“VPPA”) concluding that a mobile device identifier does not constitute personally identifiable information.

The class action was brought against Cartoon Network. The company offers videos to consumers through an application for mobile devices, such as smartphones with Android operating systems. According to the class action each time a consumer accesses the application, a complete record of the user’s video history, along with the user’s Android ID, is transmitted without consent to a third party which analyzes the data and collects consumers’ identities. The plaintiffs alleged that the Android IDs constitute personally identifiable information under the VPPA. Their disclosure would violate the statute entitling the putative class to injunction and monetary compensation.

The issue at hand was whether the disclosed Android IDs qualified as “personally identifiable information”. Case law defined as “personally identifiable information” the data that “link[s] an actual person to actual video materials.” The information disclosed by the video tape service provider would have to be sufficient to identify specific people and their video viewing habits.

The Court found that the disclosed Andorid IDs does not in itself allow third parties to identify both “the viewers and their video choices” and did therefore dismiss the action.

Opinion and Order dated October 8, 2014

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