A federal magistrate has cleared the way for a class action lawsuit against Hulu on grounds that it violated consumers' privacy by releasing movie-viewing information to Facebook and a market analysis service.
Judge Laurel Beeler ruled that the plaintiffs did not need to prove any damage other than the illegal release of their viewing data, under terms of the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA), a statute that dates back to the 1980s, when a movie rental store released the videotape rental history of Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork to a newspaper.
Disclosing such information is an "actual injury" under the VPPA, Beeler held.
In depositions earlier this year, several consumers said they were shocked to learn that Hulu had made their viewing history available to others.
"I'm paying for a service, and I thought that I understood what was involved in that transaction," plaintiff Paul Torre said in his deposition, Courthouse News Service reported. "But now I understand more, and it's disturbing."
Beeler has scheduled a Feb. 6 summary judgment hearing, In a summary judgment, the judge can issue a ruling based on the undisputed facts of the case without going through the trial process.