HBO, or ‘Home Box Office’ faced a class action lawsuit on Tuesday, March 8. Allegedly, HBO shared the viewing history of their subscribers with Meta’s Facebook. The disclosure of such data comes in violation of a particular federal privacy law.
Bursor & Fisher, a class action law firm, filed this lawsuit in the federal court in New York. The firm filed it on behalf of two subscribers of the OTT platform HBO Max. The subscribers are Angel McDaniel and Constance Simon who claimed having their data disclosed to Facebook. The suit accuses the platform of having provided the social media platform with customer lists. These customer lists apparently allows Facebook to connect the viewing habits of customers with their specific Facebook profile.
According to the suit filed, HBO allegedly never receives consent from the subscribers to share their viewing history from the OTT platform. This action leads to the violation of the Video Privacy Protection Act. The act was passed in the year 1988 prior to an incident. The incident involved possession of Robert Bork’s rental history by reported, from a video store.
Over the last ten years, various streaming providers have been in the receiving end of similar claims coming under this act. OTT platforms, or streaming providers such as ESPN, Hulu and AMC Networks have been hit with claims under the VPPA. In the year 2015, a judge ruled in favour of the platform Hulu, ruling out that they were not guilty. Hulu was apparently unaware that they were transmitting data to Facebook that could possibly be used to establish a particular viewer’s history.
The law firm, Bursor & Fisher was involved in a case against Hearst previously. In the lawsuit, the company had allegedly sold subscriber data which violated Michigan’s video privacy law Hearst had to pay an amount $50 million to settle the case.