Last week, in a decision that confirms the viability of cy pres settlements in privacy class action cases, the Ninth Circuit affirmed approval of a class action injunctive relief and cy pres-only settlement in In re Google Inc. Street View Electronic Communications Litigation, No. 20-15616, 2021 WL 6111383.  The case featured Wiretap Act claims based on Google Street View vehicles’ collection of “payload data,” including emails, passwords, and documents that Internet users transmitted over unencrypted Wi-Fi networks.
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Affirms Approval of Injunctive Relief and Cy Pres Settlement of Google Street View Privacy Claims

Courts continue to grapple with how to apply existing privacy laws to new (and even not-so-new) technology. The recent Ninth Circuit decision, affirming the Northern District of California’s decision to dismiss a proposed class action suit against Pandora for disclosure of listener music preferences in violation of Michigan’s Preservation of Personal Privacy Act (PPPA), resolved the narrow question before it while explicitly leaving others open. Although Pandora can continue to disclose listener preference data publicly, subject to its Terms of Use, the decision leaves unsettled how broadly this right could apply, and how current and future technologies could impact that right.

After certifying to the Michigan Supreme Court the questions of whether Pandora is in the business of “renting” or “lending” sound recordings, and if the plaintiff  (Peter Deacon) is a “customer” of Pandora under the PPPA, the Ninth Circuit adopted the Michigan court’s interpretation that Pandora, through its free, ad-supported service, is not in the business of renting or lending sound recordings and that Deacon is not a customer under the PPPA.
Continue Reading Users of Pandora’s Free Service Are Not Customers Under Michigan Privacy Statute, But Questions Remain

In the closely-watched case of Spokeo, Inc. v Robins, the Solicitor General recently filed an amicus brief urging the Court to deny certiorari and leave in place the 9th Circuit’s holding, which could encourage the rising tide of privacy class action litigation.  The Solicitor General’s brief—coauthored by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—argued that the

Last month a federal court found Dish Network liable for calls that were alleged by the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) to violate various provisions of the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (“TSR”).  Specifically, the FTC’s 2009 complaint asserted that Dish Network initiated, or caused a telemarketer to initiate, calls to numbers on the National Do Not Call (“DNC”) Registry and to consumers who previously declined to receive such calls whose numbers were on Dish Network’s entity-specific do-not-call list or were marked “DNC” by a telemarketing vendor.  The FTC also alleged that, in violation of the “abandoned-call” provision of the TSR, Dish Network abandoned or caused telemarketers to abandon phone calls.  In its complaint, the FTC seeks monetary civil penalties from Dish Network for every violation of the TSR, for which the court is entitled to award up to $16,000 for each violation.  At issue are tens of millions of calls, making the potential level of damages to be awarded at the trial stage staggering.
Continue Reading Court Finds FTC Entitled to Partial Summary Judgment Against Dish Network for Telemarketing Violations

By Brian Ryoo

The United States District Court for the Western District of Washington recently dismissed in part an online privacy lawsuit alleging that Amazon “circumvented” browser privacy controls in order to track users’ web browsing activities.  The plaintiffs in Del Vecchio v. Amazon had alleged that Amazon “exploit[ed]” browser controls in Internet Explorer by