Amazon Latest to Receive Video History Privacy Complaint for Online Rentals

Amazon is the latest company to receive a video privacy lawsuit, this time brought under New York and Minnesota state laws. Thursday’s class action argues that when customers rent online video content from Amazon, the company keeps their video viewing histories and personally identifying information for longer than permitted by law. 

The complaint explains that the two state laws follow in the footsteps of the 1988-passed federal Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA). As the suit briefly recounts, the law came about after a Supreme Court nominee and his family’s video rental records were published by a Washington, D.C. paper.

In recognition of the sensitivity of the video rental records, “the VPPA requires video tape service providers, like Amazon, to destroy ‘personally identifiable information as soon as practicable, but no later than one year from the date the information is no longer necessary for the purpose for which it was collected,’” the complaint explains.

New York and Minnesota’s statutes are similar, the suit says, but by contrast, they specifically provide a private right of action to enforce that statutory requirement of destruction within one year. The plaintiffs also note that the Minnesota law entitles consumers to a minimum of $500 in damages, regardless of the amount actually proved.

Allegedly, Amazon bucks the requirement by collecting and storing customers’ name, credit card information, billing address, and video rental history for an indefinite period of time owing to its account system and process. The Seattle, Wash. class action seeks to hold Amazon accountable to classes of New York and Minnesota residents who had their video records stored without consent. 

The plaintiffs and putative class are represented by Carson Noel PLLC and Bursor & Fisher P.A. 

Other companies recently targeted by VPPA or analog state law complaints include Apple, Bloomberg News, Patreon, and HGTV.