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PBS privacy lawsuit dismissed by federal judge

The plaintiff in the case previously alleged PBS gave video viewership data to Facebook parent company Meta.

The plaintiff in the case previously alleged PBS gave video viewership data to Facebook parent company Meta.

The former headquarters of program distributor PBS in Arlington, Virginia, as it appeared in 2020. (Photo by Thomson M. via Wikimedia Commons)
The former headquarters of program distributor PBS in Arlington, Virginia, as it appeared in 2020. (Photo by Thomson M. via Wikimedia Commons)

A class-action lawsuit brought against program distributor PBS was dismissed last week after the lead plaintiff in the case withdrew her participation.

The case was filed in federal court last year by Jazmine Harris, who alleged PBS violated the Video Privacy Protection Act by sharing metadata with Facebook parent company Meta. The sharing purportedly started when PBS installed a piece of code, known as a “pixel,” on its website that allowed Facebook to collect, examine and store various web-browsing activities of PBS users.

Some of that data including personal viewing information of PBS videos, Harris alleged, in violation of federal privacy laws. Harris sought damages in the amount of $2,500, to be paid to her and other eligible members of the class.

PBS has denied any wrongdoing. Late last year, the program distributor asked a federal judge to dismiss the class action lawsuit, which was rejected earlier this year.

In April, Harris and PBS filed a joint motion asking for a temporary stay of proceedings while both sides worked to resolve the issue outside of court, which was granted. Harris later filed a motion to dismiss her claim with prejudice. A judge accepted her request last Friday.

As part of the dismissal, Harris and PBS will each pay their own attorney’s fees. It wasn’t clear if Harris settled with PBS out of court.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).