Viacom, Comscore To Settle Children's Privacy Lawsuit

Viacom and Comscore have agreed to settle class-action complaints alleging they violated children's privacy rights by harvesting data, according to court papers filed Thursday.

Settlement terms have not yet been disclosed, and the agreement has not yet been accepted by U.S. District Court Judge James Donato in the Northern District of California.

The potential settlement stems from a lawsuit dating to 2017, when some parents whose children played gaming apps sued Disney, Viacom and outside companies -- including Unity, Upsight and Kochava -- for allegedly violating children's privacy by harvesting data for ad-targeting purposes. 

The following year, the parents also named Comscore and Twitter as defendants.

Viacom allegedly contracted with ad-tech companies to place data-harvesting code into the game “Llama Spit Spit,” according to the complaint.

Comscore's ScoreCardResearch allegedly embedded tracking code for market research purposes in the app “Where's My Water?”



All of the companies that were sued urged Donato to dismiss the case, arguing that the alleged tracking didn't cause any concrete injury.

Donato rejected that argument last year, citing shifting privacy norms.

“Current privacy expectations are developing, to say the least, with respect to a key issue raised in these cases -- whether the data subject owns and controls his or her personal information, and whether a commercial entity that secretly harvests it commits a highly offensive or egregious act,” Donato wrote last year.

The most significant of the parents' claims was "intrusion upon seclusion” -- which occurs when companies violate people's expectations of privacy in a "highly offensive" way.

The tech companies Unity Technologies and Upsight have also arrived at settlements in the matter. Terms of those deals haven't yet been made public.

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