A judge in the Northern District of California recently agreed with the Seventh Circuit that the Video Privacy Protection Act (“VPPA”) does not provide a private right of action premised solely on an allegedly unauthorized retention of information. 

Plaintiffs sued Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC (“SCEA”) and Sony Network Entertainment International LLC (“SNEI”) for alleged violations of the VPPA.  The VPPA limits the retention and disclosure of “personally identifiable information,” including information about a person’s requesting or obtaining video materials or services from a “video tape service provider.”  Plaintiffs were a class of Sony customers whose video watching and gaming information the company allegedly retained for longer than 30 days. 

In addition to dismissing claims that Sony unlawfully retained plaintiffs’ information, the court dismissed plaintiffs’ claims (1) that SCEA unlawfully disclosed such information to SNEI and (2) that SNEI subsequently disclosed the information to unnamed third parties.  The court dismissed the first claim on the basis of the VPPA’s “ordinary course of business” exception, which authorizes (among other things) disclosures made in the context of a “transfer of ownership.”  Because SCEA had diclosed the alleged PII in connection with a transfer of “certain assets” to SNEI, the court held that the ordinary course of business exception applied.   

The court also dismissed the second disclosure claim, holding that the plaintiffs did not state that a disclosure was made, identify anyone to whom the disclosure was made, or state that the disclosure falls outside the scope of the VPPA.