Google and Viacom both faced a class-action lawsuit that claimed Nickelodeon’s Nick.com placed cookies on children under-13 computers and that Google used those cookies to work out which videos kids had watched and the games they played to dish out targeted ads.
It’s against US law to gather information from children under-13 personal without warning parents and getting their permission; it’s claimed that permission was never sought.
However, the appeals court said Google was not liable as even though it served up ads to kids, it did not collect their info directly: it was given the data by Viacom’s Nick.com servers.
Viacom was also largely let off, as the court said that the data gathered was deemed not specific enough to be personally identifying.
In absolving Google, the appeals court drew a parallel to case that inspired the Video Privacy Protection Act, the leaking of Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork’s video rental history. Just as the court ruled that the Washington Post was not liable for receiving and publishing Bork’s rental history from the video store, Google is not liable for receiving the IP address and browsing history Viacom’s cookies collected.