On October 8, 2014, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia granted Cartoon Network, Inc.’s (“Cartoon Network’s”) motion to dismiss a putative class action alleging that Cartoon Network’s mobile app impermissibly disclosed users’ personally identifiable information (“PII”) to a third party data analytics company under the Video Privacy Protection Act (“VPPA”).
Cartoon Network’s mobile app allowed consumers to view video content via their mobile device. Each time a user accessed the mobile app, the app would disclose the user’s Android ID and “a complete record of the user’s video history” to a third party data analytics company that specialized in tracking users across mobile apps and websites. An Android ID is a “randomly generated number that is unique to each user and device.” According to the complaint, the disclosures of customers’ viewing records occurred without consumer consent and violated the VPPA.
In granting Cartoon Network’s motion to dismiss, the court stated the information disclosed to the data analytics company was not PII and thus, there was no violation of the VPPA. The VPPA defines PII as “information which identifies a person as having requested or obtained specific video materials or services from a video tape service provider.” According to the court, an Android ID (coupled with video viewing history) is not PII because it does not identify a specific person. Although the plaintiffs alleged that the analytics company was able to connect specific individuals to Android IDs provided by Cartoon Network through information obtained from other sources, the court dismissed the complaint stating that the analysis focuses on the information disclosed, not on what the recipient is able to do with the information.