Google Battles Streaming Video Renters Over Privacy

People who rent streaming videos from Google lack grounds to proceed with a privacy lawsuit over data retention, the company told a federal judge Tuesday.

The consumers' claims “fail for a myriad of independently dispositive reasons,” Google said in a motion urging U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, California to dismiss the lawsuit at an early stage.

The company's motion comes in a lawsuit dating to October, when Minneapolis resident Burke Minahan alleged that Google violated a state privacy law by maintaining a record of all videos he rented from the platform since 2018, when he first used the company's streaming rental service. Among other provisions, the Minnesota law that requires “videotape service providers” to destroy personally identifiable information no later than one year when it's no longer needed by the company that collected it.



Minahan's suit was later joined by New York residents, who alleged the company was violating a similar New York video privacy law. 

Google argues that the Minnesota and New York laws only allow consumers to sue over the disclosure of their video viewing information, as opposed to retention of their video viewing records.

“Plaintiffs’ misguided attempt to have this court be the first in the nation to provide a private right of action for the alleged wrongful retention of information under these ... statutes should thus be denied with prejudice,” lawyers for the company write.

Google also argues that the complaint should be dismissed because the consumers didn't allege that the company no longer needs the data.

“Plaintiffs do not allege the reasons why Google collected the information, much less that Google is no longer using their information for that purpose, as would be required to demonstrate a violation occurred.

What's more, Google says, its terms of service provide that California laws apply to disputes -- and California doesn't require companies to destroy video rental records.

Earlier this month, Apple defeated a nearly identical lawsuit, brought by New York resident Lucila Baptiste and Minnesota resident Frederick Ramos. U.S. District Court Judge Haywood Gilliam in the Northern District of California ruled in that matter that the video privacy laws in New York and Minnesota laws don't allow individuals to sue companies over their alleged failure to destroy video rental records.

Baptiste and Ramos recently took steps to appeal that decision to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

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