Ninth Circuit: no private right of action to enforce video privacy law’s bar on data retention

In Rodriguez v. Sony Computer, a consumer sued Sony for keeping his personal information that he entered on his PlayStation past the one-year limit provided in the federal Video Privacy Protection Act, and sharing that information between Sony entities. (The Ninth Circuit provides interesting historical context for the VPPA: "The Act was promulgated in 1988 after the Washington City Paper published Judge Robert Bork's video rental history during his failed Supreme Court confirmation proceedings.")

Last Friday, the Ninth Circuit upheld dismissal of the complaint. First, the court held that the VPPA cannot be privately enforced by consumers as to unlawful retention of information, only unlawful disclosure. In this regard, the court joined the Sixth and Seventh Circuits. Second, as to the unlawful disclosure claim, the court held that Rodriguez's claim failed because Sony's sharing across its various entities because it occurred in the "ordinary course of business," which includes the transfer of ownership. When Sony took over the PlayStation network, the Ninth Circuit ruled, it could acquire Rodriguez's information.

The decision is here.

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