posted on Dec, 25 2013 @ 01:12 PM
This story really needs told in two parts for it to make sense. First, lets look at what Hulu did and what the Judge had to say about it.
SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Hulu must face claims that it illegally disclosed viewer data to Facebook and a business-analytics service, a federal judge
ruled, finding users can recover damages by merely showing that the disclosure occurred.
Joseph Garvey is the lead plaintiff in putative class action that says Hulu "repurposed" its browser cache to let marketing-analysis services
store the private data of users.
Repurposed, eh? Well.. That's downright rude! The Judge agreed....
Judge Beeler unraveled Hulu's argument Friday, finding that the act "requires only injury in the form of a wrongful disclosure."
"Hulu's main argument - that the word 'aggrieved' in the statute requires an additional injury- does not change the outcome," Beeler
Illegally disclosing personal information is an "actual injury" in this case, and the plaintiffs could recover damages if the court finds Hulu
violated the VPPA, according to the 18-page order.
Source: Courthouse News
As I said, that's the first part. This action is based on a law I hadn't heard of before and I gather, few have. A search here didn't even show a
hit on the abbreviation for the act. Here is the legal theory that Hulu is facing and has a serious problem with, I'd say.
The Video Privacy Protection Act of 1988 (codified at 18 U.S.C. § 2710 (2002)) was passed in reaction to the disclosure of Supreme Court nominee
Robert Bork's video rental records in a newspaper. The Act is not often invoked, but stands as one of the strongest protections of consumer privacy
against a specific form of data collection. Generally, it prevents disclosure of personally identifiable rental records of "prerecorded video
cassette tapes or similar audio visual material." The Act has several important provisions, including:
- A general ban on the disclosure of personally identifiable rental information unless the consumer consents specifically and in writing.
- Disclosure to police officers only with a valid warrant or court order.
- Disclosure of "genre preferences" along with names and addresses for marketing, but allowing customers to opt out.
- Exclusion of evidence acquired in violation of the Act
- Civil remedies, including possible punitive damages and attorneys fees, not less than $2500.
- A requirement that video stores destroy rental records no longer than one year after an account is terminated.
- The VPPA does not preempt state law. That is, states are free to enact broader protections for individuals' records.
Prior to reading this and on the face of hearing the circumstances without the VPPA background? I'd have said Hulu had a good case to argue that
without material damage to anyone proven, no wrong exists to sue over. Standing and all that, at least.
After reading it? Well....Hulu has some real issues, I believe and that's a crack I'm not sure they can work out of. It seems clear for what can't
be done vs. what they apparently did?