Military.com Ignored Subscribers’ Privacy Rights, Milberg Lawsuit Claims
by Brian Eckert
Military Advantage, Inc., the owner of Military.com, disregarded the statutorily protected privacy rights of hundreds of thousands of subscribers by releasing their sensitive data to Facebook, alleges a class action lawsuit filed by Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillips Grossman PLLC (“Milberg”).
Anyone in the United States with a digital subscription to Military.com and other websites may be eligible to join the class action and recover damages of $2,500 per person if the lawsuit is certified by the court.
The VPPA and Consumer PII
The Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA), effective since 1988, regulates the disclosure of consumer information relating to the consumption of video content. The VPPA was passed in response to a journalist publishing the video tape rental history of a Supreme Court nominee, but the outdated statute was amended in 2013 to reflect the ubiquity of online video services.
Military.com unlawfully disclosed the sensitive data of its digital subscribers to Facebook, according to Milberg’s class action lawsuit.
An organizations that provides online video content to consumers—such as Military.com—is considered a “video tape service provider” (VTSP) under the VPPA. The law prohibits VTSPs from knowing disclosing consumers’ personally identifiable information (PII), including “information which identifies a person as having requested or obtained specific video materials or services from a video tape provider” without obtaining informed, written consent from consumers prior to such disclosures.
Plaintiff: Military.com Disclosed Personal Viewing Information to Facebook
The plaintiff in the case is a long-time digital subscriber to Military.com as well as a Facebook account holder. His claims arise from Military.com allegedly disclosing his PII to Facebook, in violation of the VPPA.
Milberg’s lawsuit explains in detail how the unlawful PII disclosures occurred:
- Military.com collects and shares the personal information of its digital subscribers with third parties through cookies, software development kits (SDK), and pixels.
- When a digital subscriber views video media on Military.com or its app, the website tracks and discloses to Facebook the subscriber’s Facebook ID and video content viewed using a code installed on the Military.com website. This information is shared with Facebook as a single data point.
- The use of this code allows Facebook to know what video content one of its subscribers viewed on Military.com.
- Subscribers to Military.com were never informed that their sensitive data was being used in this way, and they did not consent to the practice.
- Military.com profited from this unlawful use of its subscribers’ data.
“Defendant chose to disregard Plaintiff’s and hundreds of thousands of other Military.com digital subscribers’ statutorily protected privacy rights by releasing their sensitive data to Facebook,” states the complaint.
“Accordingly, Plaintiff brings this class action for legal and equitable remedies to redress and put a stop to Defendant’s practices of intentionally disclosing its digital subscribers’ Personal Viewing Information to Facebook in knowing violation of VPPA.”
VPPA Allows For $2,500 in Damages
Breaches of the VPPA may entitle victims to damages that include:
- Monetary damages of $2,500 (per violation)
- Punitive damages
- Attorneys’ fees and litigation costs
- Equitable relief
You may be able to join the Military.com class action lawsuit if you meet the following class definition:
All persons in the United States with a digital subscription to an online website owned and/or operated by [Military Advantage Inc] that had their Personal Viewing Information disclosed to Facebook by [Military Advantage Inc].
Milberg’s lawsuit was filed by Randi Kassan, Gary Klinger, and Nick Suciu III. It is currently pending certification in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. If and when the lawsuit is certified, eligible class members may be able to automatically join and receive an equitable share of any verdict or settlement.
Protecting the Rights of Consumers in a Digital Age
More than 50 years ago, Milberg pioneered federal class action litigation and helped to usher in a new era of corporate accountability. Technologies change and privacy threats evolve, but Milberg remains dedicated to consumer protection. In today’s Digital Age, we continue to fight for the rights of consumers as their private information is shared across the web—often without their knowledge or permission.