Technology that determines an individual’s identity or location has been the subject of significant media attention in the first half of 2018: Amazon made news with the sale of its facial recognition technology to law enforcement, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government generally must obtain a warrant to access certain types of geolocation information, California arrested the Golden State Killer using the DNA information of a relative, and Facebook came under fire for the way in which Cambridge Analytica accessed the data of tens of millions of users. Garnering less attention, but of no less importance, are the legislative efforts underway in the federal government and in many states to regulate these emerging technologies and limit the ways in which this information can be collected.
A federal circuit court recently rules that there was no actionable violation of the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA) when ESPN shared a user’s movie streaming device serial number with a third party.
A three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the 9th Circuit unanimously affirmed a district court decision dismissing a claim alleging a violation of the VPPA, holding that the serial number of a Roku movie streaming device is not “personally-identifiable information” under the statute in Eichenberger v. ESPN, Inc., No. 15-35499 (9th Cir.). In so doing, however, the Ninth Circuit also joined the Third and Eleventh Circuits in holding that, when alleging a violation of the VPPA, allegations of additional consequences stemming from the violation are not necessary to meet Article III’s standing requirement.