Delaware Federal Court Holds No Harm From Third-Party Cookies’ Collection Of Personal Information, Dismisses Broad Consumer Privacy Suit

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On October 9, the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware dismissed a broad, consolidated action against an Internet company alleged to have circumvented an Internet browser’s cookie blocker to collect personally identifiable information (PII) from the browser’s users. In re Google Inc. Cookie Placement Consumer Privacy Litig., No. 12-2358, slip op. (D. Del. (Oct. 9, 2013). The court held that the plaintiffs lacked Article III standing because they had not sufficiently alleged an injury-in-fact.  The court reasoned that while plaintiffs provided some evidence that the PII at issue has some value to the individual, they did not sufficiently allege that their ability to extract that value was diminished by the alleged collection by a third party. Despite its standing holding, the court continued its analysis and dismissed each of the plaintiffs federal and state privacy claims on the merits. The court held, for example, that the plaintiffs’ claims that the collection of URLs violated the Electronic Communications Privacy Act failed because URLs are not “contents” as defined by that Act. The court also held that the plaintiffs failed to identify any impairment of the performance or functioning of their computers and could not sustain a claim under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.