Dotdash Meredith is being sued for allegedly passing personal viewing information of EW.com (Entertainment Weekly) subscribers to Meta Platforms Inc. without consent.
The class action suit, one of two filed on February 1 by Michelle Harris-Shields of Kentucky, charges that the publisher violated the Video Privacy Protection Act by disclosing personally identifiable information or Facebook ID of digital subscribers and the computer file containing video and its corresponding URL.
In addition, Dotdash Meredith Defendant “failed to provide, in a clear and conspicuous manner, an opportunity for consumers to opt out as required by VPPA,” according to the complaint on file with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
The plaintiff contends that the VPPA prohibits video tape service providers like EW.com, from “knowingly disclosing “information which identifies a person as having requested or obtained specific video materials or services from a video tape provider,’ without first obtaining express consent in a stand-alone consent form.”
In addition, the plaintiff argues that, like other businesses with an online presence, the defendant “collects and shares the personal information of visitors to its website and mobile application (“App”) with third parties. Defendant does this through cookies, software development kits (“SDK”), and pixels.”
It is not clear whether this is a simple nuisance suit or one that might financially impact on Dotdash Meredith.
The complaint asks for punitive damages, and that the publisher be ordered to pay $2,500 to each class member, as required by the VPPA. As far as can be told, there is only one class member at this time.
There has been a plethora of such actions against publishers and other digital entities.
Last November, a federal judge ruled that a Kansas resident can proceed with a lawsuit accusing online health publisher WebMD of disclosing visitors' video-viewing information to Facebook.
That same month, another U.S. judge decided that an Epoch Times subscriber can proceed with a suit accusing the conservative newspaper of violating the VPPA by disclosing people’s video-viewing information to Facebook.