On February 27, the Alliance joined a brief, filed in the California First District Court of Appeal, arguing that alleged violations under the California Invasion of Privacy Act (“CIPA”), relating to undisclosed recordings, should not be dealt with on a class-wide basis without an examination of the individual circumstances between the parties. In Gruber v. Yelp, Yelp was being sued under the CIPA for “one-sided” recordings of sales calls between Yelp employees and potential customers (one-sided meaning only capturing Yelp’s side of the conversation) without disclosing that they were recording. The Superior Court held that class-wide relief could be sought against Yelp. Yelp’s argument, and what the brief argues, is that under the CIPA and the First Amendment, each call must be individually examined for consent and privacy issues, and not aggregated into a class of plaintiffs. Such consent issues could come into play when journalists talk to sources, potentially exposing them to costly class action lawsuits. The decision in this case could have far-reaching impacts for journalists, media organizations, and the First Amendment right to record.
Charlotte McBirney is Senior Counsel and Director, Public Policy for the News/Media Alliance.