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HBO was hit with a class action lawsuit on Tuesday alleging that it shares subscribers’ viewing history with Facebook, in violation of a federal privacy law.
A class action law firm, Bursor & Fisher, filed the suit in federal court in New York on behalf of two HBO Max subscribers, Angel McDaniel and Constance Simon. The suit alleges that HBO provides Facebook with customer lists, which allows Facebook to match customers’ viewing habits with their Facebook profiles.
The suit alleges that HBO never receives consent from subscribers to do this, thereby violating the Video Privacy Protection Act. The act was passed in 1988, after a reporter obtained Robert Bork’s rental history from a video store.
Over the last decade, several streaming providers — including Hulu, AMC Networks and ESPN — have been hit with similar claims under the VPPA. A judge ruled in favor of Hulu in 2015, finding that Hulu did not knowingly transmit data to Facebook that could be used to establish an individual’s viewing history. But the issue remains contested.
The lawsuit argues that HBO knows that Facebook can combine such data because HBO is a major advertiser on Facebook, and it in fact uses that information to retarget Facebook ads to its own subscribers.
The same law firm was previously involved in a case against Hearst, alleging that the company violated Michigan’s video privacy law by selling subscriber data. Hearst paid a $50 million settlement in that case.
HBO did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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