A lawsuit by New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas against Twitter's MoPub and other ad-tech companies cleared a preliminary hurdle this week, when a federal judge ruled that the companies could be hauled into court in New Mexico.
The lawsuit, brought by Balderas in 2018, alleges that mobile game developer Tiny Lab -- together with tech companies -- violated privacy laws, including the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.
That law prohibits companies from collecting personal data, including data used for ad targeting, from children under 13, without their parents' permission.
Balderas alleged that Tiny Lab, based in Lithuania, illegally gleans personal data from young users who download games like "Fun Kid Racing," and that Google's AdMob, Twitter's MoPub, and other tech companies -- including Inmobi and AppLovin -- facilitate the data transfers.
The complaint also alleged that Google wrongly placed Tiny Lab's apps in the Play store's “Designed for Families” section.
Twitter's MoPub, Applovin and Inmobi urged U.S. District Court Judge Martha Vazquez in New Mexico to dismiss the complaint for several reasons, including that they didn't have enough of a connection with the state of New Mexico to warrant justify a lawsuit in that locale.
In a decision issued Tuesday, Vazquez rejected that argument. She said the federal Children's Online Privacy Protection Act provides for lawsuits to be brought throughout the country.
Vazquez has not yet ruled on the companies' other arguments for dismissal.
Google argued separately from the other companies that the allegations against it should be dismissed. Vazquez has not yet ruled on Google's contentions.