iOS Developer Pays $50k FTC Fine

August 15, 2011 -

The iOS app maker responsible for games such as Zombie Duck Hunt, Truth or Dare, and Emily's Dress Up today settled with the Federal Trade Commission for collecting children's personal data in its iPhone and iPod touch apps. Broken Thumbs Apps and its parent company W3 Innovations were targeted by an FTC lawsuit on Friday. Today the company announced a settlement.

The FTC alleged in its complaint that W3 "collected, maintained, and/or disclosed personal information" entered into its kid apps such as emails and other private information. This included a list of more than 30,000 e-mails as well as personal information from more than 300 Emily's Girl World App users and 290 Emily's Dress Up users. Some of W3's apps asked children to enter names before beginning the game or leave comments on a blog related to the app, details of which are saved to W3's archives.

The FTC further alleges that these apps were clearly marketed to children and that the company has seen more than 50,000 app downloads since it first began offering games on the iPhone and iPod touch. Because these apps send and receive information via the Internet, the FTC said that they were in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the FTC's COPPA Rule, which requires parents to give consent before the company collects or uses the personal information of children. With W3/Broken Thumbs, parents were not aware that their kids' details were being collected and used for marketing purposes.

The company quickly acquiesced to the complaint and has paid a $50,000 fine. It also agreed to delete all personal information that was collected in violation of the COPPA Rules and claims that it won't make any future Rule violations.

US Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) applauded the FTC's decision to pursue W3:

"Since COPPA was signed into law in 1998, children increasingly connect to the Internet on the go, using an array of mobile apps and new services that did not exist when the law was enacted," Markey said in a statement. "Earlier this year, I introduced the ‘Do Not Track Kids Act’ with Congressman Joe Barton to bring COPPA up to date and add additional safeguards for teens. I look forward to working with my colleagues to move forward our bipartisan bill so that we can provide strong protections for children and teens, enabling them to learn, communicate and enjoy entertainment in a safe online environment."

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), agreed with Markey:

"This settlement is an important victory for online and mobile privacy. Mobile apps can be great tools for kids to learn and have fun, but parents should never have to worry that their child’s personal information is being collected or violated. I will continue to make sure we have clear rules of the road that allow consumers to have more control over their online and mobile information," she said in a statement.

Source: Ars Technica

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E. Zachary KnightPapa, Of course thre is. That has now become a permanent part of the EULA boilerplate template.07/29/2015 - 12:56pm
Papa MidnightIn case anyone is interested, there is a clause written into Section 10 of Windows 10's EULA that provides for a Class Action Waiver, and restricts the user to Binding Arbitration.07/29/2015 - 11:15am
TechnogeekNo, that folder is what gets used for the upgrade process. I already had the upgrade go through on my notebook.07/29/2015 - 10:35am
Andrew EisenMatt - And AGAIN, you keep saying "accountable." What exactly does that mean? How is Gamasutra not accounting for the editorial it published? How is it not accountable to its readership (which, AGAIN, is primarily game industry folk, not gamers)?07/29/2015 - 10:10am
james_fudgeThat's the clean install, for anyone asking07/29/2015 - 9:23am
TechnogeekAlso, it's the upgrade that's available for installation now. You might need to forcibly initiate the Windows Update process before it'll start downloading, though. (If there's a C:\$Windows.~BT folder on your computer, then you're in luck.)07/29/2015 - 8:46am
TechnogeekAdmittedly there's more room to push for an advertiser boycott when you get into opinion content versus pure news, but keep in mind that reviews are opinion content as well.07/29/2015 - 8:46am
TechnogeekMatts: There's a difference between "this person regularly says extremely terrible stuff" and "I don't like the phrasing used in this one specific editorial".07/29/2015 - 8:45am
MattsworknameWait, is that for the upgrade or the clean install only? cause I was gonna do the upgrade07/29/2015 - 8:32am
james_fudgehttps://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows1007/29/2015 - 8:30am
PHX Corp@Wilson, I'm still waiting for My upgrade notice aswell07/29/2015 - 7:57am
MattsworknameWilson: how? Im still waiting for my upgrade notice07/29/2015 - 3:44am
Matthew WilsonI updated to a clean instill of windows 10.07/29/2015 - 2:36am
Mattsworknameargue that it's wrong, but then please admit it's wrong on ALL Fronts07/29/2015 - 2:06am
MattsworknameTechnoGeek: It's actually NOT, but it is a method used all across the specturm. See Rush limbaugh, MSNBC, Shawn hannity, etc etc, how many compagns have been brought up to try and shut them down by going after there advertisers. It's fine if you wanna07/29/2015 - 2:05am
Mattsworknamediscussed, while not what I liked and not the methods I wanted to see used, were , in a sense, the effort of thsoe game consuming masses to hold what they felt was supposed to be there press accountable for what many of them felt was Betrayal07/29/2015 - 2:03am
MattsworknameAs we say, the gamers are dead article set of a firestorm among the game consuming populace, who, ideally, were the intended audiance for sites like Kotaku, Polygon, Et all. As such, the turn about on them and the attacking of them, via the metods07/29/2015 - 2:03am
MattsworknameAndrew: Thats kind fo the issue at hand, Accountable is a matter of context. For a media group, it means accountable to its reader. to a goverment, to it's voters and tax payer, to a company, to it's share holders.07/29/2015 - 2:02am
Andrew EisenAnd again, you keep saying "accountable." What exactly does that mean? How is Gamasutra not accounting for the editorial it published?07/28/2015 - 11:47pm
Andrew EisenMatt - I disagree with your 9:12 and 9:16 comment. There are myriad ways to address content you don't like. And they're far easier to execute in the online space.07/28/2015 - 11:47pm
 

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