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

Yershov v Gannett

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.

Bradley Barth

As director of multimedia content strategy at CyberRisk Alliance, Bradley Barth develops content for online conferences, webcasts, podcasts video/multimedia projects — often serving as moderator or host. For nearly six years, he wrote and reported for SC Media as deputy editor and, before that, senior reporter. He was previously a program executive with the tech-focused PR firm Voxus. Past journalistic experience includes stints as business editor at Executive Technology, a staff writer at New York Sportscene and a freelance journalist covering travel and entertainment. In his spare time, Bradley also writes screenplays.

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