On May 22, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission filed an amicus brief in support of a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that COPPA does not preempt state laws claims that are consistent with COPPA.
The brief was filed in the case of Jones v. Google. The lawsuit, which was brought by parents on behalf of their children, alleges that video sharing platform YouTube, which is owned by Google, and specific YouTube channel owners violated state laws by collecting personal information of children under the age of 13 through persistent identifiers without notifying and obtaining consent to do so from their parents.
Initially, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California held that COPPA preempted the state law claims. Following this ruling, the plaintiffs appealed to the Ninth Circuit which reversed this finding. Google then asked the full Ninth Circuit to review the ruling, leading the court to ask the FTC to weigh in on the matter.
In the brief, the FTC agreed with the finding of the appeal court that COPPA’s preemption clause applies only to state laws that are “inconsistent” with COPPA. The FTC stated that “Congress did not intend to wholly foreclose state protection of children’s online privacy, and the panel properly rejected an interpretation of COPPA that would achieve that outcome. The FTC voted 3-0 to authorize the filing of the brief.