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Sunday, February 25, 2024 | Back issues
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Plaintiffs Drop Suit Over Hulu Data Collection

(CN) - A group of Hulu users who said the website illegally stored private information about them dropped their appeal before the Ninth Circuit.

In 2011, a proposed class claimed Hulu "repurposed" browser caches so market analysts could store their private data.

Hulu consistently disputed the claims that it used the market analysts, or that it used Facebook "like" buttons to store users' data.

The litigation largely focused on the Video Privacy Protection Act, which Congress enacted in 1988 after a newspaper published the video-rental history of Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork.

Earlier this year, U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler ruled the proposed class couldn't prove a connection between a "c_user" browser cookie sent to Facebook and the identity of a Hulu user.

In granting summary judgment to Hulu, Beeler also said the proposed class's claim did not seem at all similar to the Bork case.

"In that type of case, the connection between a specific user and the material that he 'requested or obtained' is obvious. If I hand someone a slip of paper with John Doe's name above a list of recently rented videotapes, the connection between the two will generally be apparent. This is all the more so because the information is passed between humans in a natural language. The recipient can immediately read the note and see the connection," Beeler wrote in March.

"This case is different. The user's identity and that of the video material were transmitted separately (albeit simultaneously). By sending those two items Hulu did not thereby connect them in a manner akin to connecting Judge Bork to his video-rental history."

The Hulu users appealed to the Ninth Circuit, and on Friday the parties filed a stipulated motion to voluntarily dismiss the appeal. No reason was given for the decision.

The plaintiffs were represented by Kamberlaw LLP, Parisi & Havens LLP and Strange & Butler. Hulu was represented by Robert Schwartz of Irell & Manella LLP in Los Angeles.

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