Appeals court reinstates lawsuit against Gannett for sharing mobile app user data

The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court's dismissal of a lawsuit that claims Gannett violated federal law when sharing mobile app user data.
The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court's dismissal of a lawsuit that claims Gannett violated federal law when sharing mobile app user data.

The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a Massachusetts district court's dismissal of a class-action lawsuit accusing the publishing company Gannett of violating the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA) of 1988 by sharing mobile app data with a third party.

The decision revived the case Yershov v. Gannett Satellite Information Network, initiated by plaintiff Alexander Yershov, who contends that when he downloaded Gannett's USA Today mobile news app, he did not grant consent to share data on which videos he watched to Adobe Systems for targeted advertising purposes.

The VPPA prohibits providers of video content from making wrongful disclosures of records pertaining to “renters, purchasers or subscribers.” Gannett had successfully argued in district court that Yershov did not fit any of these consumer designations because he did not pay for the app service. The three-judge panel disagreed and allowed the suit to move forward. “While he paid no money, access was not free of a commitment to provide consideration in the form of that information, which was of value to Gannett,” the court ruled.

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