In Re DoubleClick Inc. Privacy Litigation
United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
154 F. Supp. 2d 497 (2001)
DoubleClick Inc. (defendant) was the world’s largest provider of Internet advertising products. When Internet users (plaintiffs) visited any DoubleClick-affiliated website, a cookie would be placed on the user’s hard drive. Typically, the purpose of a cookie is to store data like usernames and passwords to make it easier for users to access websites. The plaintiffs claimed, however, that DoubleClick’s cookies collected other private and personal information, like names, addresses, phone numbers, and Internet browsing activity. The plaintiffs sued, alleging both statutory and common-law claims. One claim was an alleged violation of Title II of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which prohibits unauthorized access to communications facilities to access stored electronic communications. The parties did not dispute that DoubleClick had gained unauthorized access to the users’ hard drives, and that the hard drives were communications facilities for purposes of the ECPA. Instead, DoubleClick’s defense centered on an exception provided in Title II of the ECPA. In essence, this exception said that if one party to the communication authorized someone to access the communication, then there was no liability for that access. Whether this exception applied to DoubleClick’s conduct hinged on whether the affiliated websites were considered Internet users. The plaintiffs argued that only the individual plaintiffs could be considered Internet users, not the affiliated websites. Additionally, the plaintiffs asserted that even if the cookies themselves did not violate the ECPA, the identification numbers that DoubleClick assigned to its cookies did violate the statute. This argument relied on the fact that the identification numbers were not part of a communication between the plaintiffs and the affiliated websites. Therefore, the websites could not authorize DoubleClick to access those numbers on the plaintiffs’ hard drives.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Buchwald, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.
Here's why 175,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 14,000 briefs, keyed to 188 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.