Ninth Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Children’s Privacy Class Action

December 28, 2022 – The Ninth Circuit has reversed the district court’s dismissal of Hubbard v. Google et al., a proposed class action brought on behalf of minor children who viewed YouTube videos on certain YouTube “channels” geared towards children. Plaintiffs allege that Google tracked children’s online behavior surreptitiously and without parental consent in order to show these children targeted behavioral advertising, in violation of their constitutional, statutory, and common law privacy rights. Plaintiffs have also named the owners of the YouTube channels at issue as Defendants, alleging that these channel owners knowingly profited from Google’s invasion of children’s privacy.

In July 2021, the district court dismissed Plaintiffs’ case, finding that it was preempted by the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”). In a published opinion, the Ninth Circuit panel overturned the district court’s order, determining that Congress only “intended to preempt inconsistent state laws, not state laws that are consistent with COPPA’s substantive requirements, such as the state law causes of action pleaded in the complaint here.”  Consistent with long-standing Ninth Circuit precedent, the panel held that state laws that “supplement” or “require the same thing” as a federal law do not “stand as an obstacle” to federal law and thus are not preempted.

The case, No. 5:19-cv-07016 (N.D. Cal.) has been remanded to the district court for further proceedings before Judge Beth Labson Freeman.  Pritzker Levine LLP and Silver Golub & Teitel LLP represent Plaintiffs in the action.

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