Apple Prevails In Privacy Battle Over Streaming Video

Apple has defeated a lawsuit alleging that the company violates New York and Minnesota privacy laws by retaining records of the videos that users stream through iTunes.

In a decision issued this week, U.S. District Court Judge Haywood Gilliam in the Northern District of California said the New York and Minnesota laws do not allow individuals to sue companies over their alleged failure to destroy video rental records.

The ruling stems from a class-action complaint filed last year by New York resident Lucila Baptiste and Minnesota resident Frederick Ramos, who alleged that Apple “maintains a digital dossier on millions of consumers throughout New York and Minnesota.”

The duo alleged that Apple violated state laws that require companies to keep people's video viewing history confidential, and to destroy personally identifiable records connected to video viewing as soon as practical.

“Apple maintains and stores its customers’ names, credit card numbers, billing and contact information, and most importantly, sensitive video rental histories for an indefinite period of time,” the complaint alleged.

Apple urged Gilliam to dismiss the matter at an early stage for numerous reasons. Among others, Apple argued that the laws in New York and Minnesota only allow consumers to sue over disclosure of their video rental records, not for retaining information.

“To Apple’s knowledge, no court has ever recognized a private right of action for wrongful retention of consumer [personally identifiable information] under either statute,” the company argued in papers filed last year.

Gilliam wrote that he agreed with Apple and dismissed the case with prejudice -- meaning that the consumers can't beef up their allegations and bring them again.

Apple isn't the only company facing a lawsuit for allegedly retaining video viewing records. Google and Amazon were also recently hit with similar class-action complaints. Those cases remain pending.

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