A class action lawsuit against Google LLC, Youtube LLC and various entertainment companies was dismissed on Thursday in the Northern District of California. According to the court, the plaintiffs’ claims are preempted by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and therefore must be brought before the Federal Trade Commission.
The plaintiffs, who represent their children, alleged that the entertainment companies “intentionally created content aimed at children under thirteen so that Google could target and track young children for ad revenue.” In conjunction with this, Google supposedly “tracked Plaintiffs’ personal data and information, such as internet protocol addresses and device serial numbers, and that allowed Google to develop profiles of individuals over time by tracking their activities across multiple websites.”
The plaintiffs accused Google of feigning compliance with federal and state laws and cited Google’s former Code of Conduct, which famously said “Don’t be evil,” claiming that this created a sense of privacy among users. Furthermore, “the YouTube Kids app was only available as a mobile application until 2019, so when children searched for their favorite show on a web browser, they would be shown links to child-directed content hosted on the YouTube Platform and not the YouTube Kids app,” which allegedly allowed Google to trick users into having their data collected.
The court determined that because all of the plaintiffs are classified as children, COPPA protections apply. The court found that the FTC is the proper enforcement authority and not state court systems.
The court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss with leave for the plaintiffs to amend their complaint within 30 days.
The defendants are represented by Hogan Lovells US LLP.