Late last week, subscribers who both have Facebook accounts and subscriptions to insider.com, a multimedia website, sued Insider Inc. for violations of the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA). The suit, like others filed against other companies that offer online video content and use the Facebook Pixel, alleges that Insider knowingly discloses its subscribers’ personal information, including the title of every video they view, to Meta Platforms without first obtaining their consent.
The suit was first filed in August and later consolidated in the Southern District of New York where it is proceeding before Judge Analisa Torres.
According to the complaint, filed by plaintiffs from a half-dozen states, businesses such as Insider use Meta’s marketing and advertising tools, including tracking pixels, “to monitor and record their website visitors’ devices and activities on their website.” Consequently, website visitors’ browsing data and interactions are sent to Meta, which uses the information for marketing purposes, the filing says, noting that the tools are not critical to website function and merely enhance Insider’s marketing efforts.
The suit says that viewers’ “sensitive data,” including their Facebook ID, is information they expected to have been kept private. In turn, it states a claim under the VPPA on behalf of a nationwide class of insider.com subscribers, or people who viewed content on the website, and used Facebook during the time Meta’s Pixel was active from January 2013 to the present.
The suit seeks injunctive relief and statutory damages of $2,500 per violation.
The plaintiffs and putative class are represented by Bursor & Fisher P.A., Lowey Dannenberg P.C., Girard Sharp LLP and Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillips Grossman PLLC.
Notably, the federal government intervened in another VPPA suit filed against content platform Patreon after the company moved to dismiss the case on grounds that the VPPA is unconstitutionally overbroad. The government defended the law’s viability, arguing that it does not impermissibly restrict commercial speech.