Publications & Presentations
November 24, 2015
Recently, the Eleventh Circuit addressed a question of first impression at the appellate level — namely, when is a user of a free mobile application a “subscriber” under the Video Privacy Protection Act. The implications of the court’s ruling go far beyond the VPPA and the ability to watch reruns of "The Daily Show" on your mobile device. It offers a roadmap of how companies should design mobile apps to try and avoid the tentacles of privacy statutes.

In Mark Ellis v. The Cartoon Network Inc., the plaintiff downloaded defendant Cartoon Network’s free mobile app to watch video clips and shows. Without the plaintiff’s knowledge or consent, the app monitored and tracked his viewing habits. The app did not collect the plaintiff’s name or financial information; rather, it tracked him based upon a unique number identifier associated with his device. The info was then shared with a third-party marketing company, which uncovered the plaintiff’s identity through other sources “scraped” from the internet.

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