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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InfophileEZK: Certainly better that way, though not foolproof. Makes me think though: does it count as piracy if you download a game you already paid for, just not from the place you paid for it at? Ethically, I'd say no, but legally, probably yes.12/19/2014 - 11:20am
ZippyDSMleeAnd I still spent 200$ in the last month on steam/GOG stuff sales get me nearly every time ><12/19/2014 - 10:55am
ZippyDSMleeMaskedPixelante:And this is why I'm a one legged bandit.12/19/2014 - 10:51am
ZippyDSMleeE. Zachary Knight: I buy what I can as long as I can get cracks for it...then again it I could have gotton Lords of the Fallen for 30 with DLC I would have ><12/19/2014 - 10:50am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/12/19/marvel-vs-capcom-origins-leaving-online-storefronts-soon/ Speaking of "last chance to buy", Marvel vs. Capcom Origins is getting delisted from all major storefronts. Behold the wonders of the all digital future.12/19/2014 - 9:59am
MaskedPixelanteSeriously, the so-called "Last Chance" sale was up to 80% off, while this one time only return sale goes for a flat 85% off with a 90% off upgrade if you buy the whole catalogue.12/19/2014 - 9:37am
E. Zachary KnightInfophile, Tha is why I buy only DRM-free games.12/19/2014 - 9:37am
MaskedPixelanteNordic is back on GOG for one weekend only. And at 85% off no less, which is kind of a slap in the face to people who paid more during the "NORDIC IS LEAVING FOREVER BUY NOW OR FOREVER HOLD YOUR PEACE" sale, but whatever...12/19/2014 - 9:28am
InfophileRe PHX's link: This is one of the reasons the digital revolution isn't all it's cracked up to be. There's also the flip side where Sony can block access to games you've bought if they ban your account for unrelated reasons. All power is theirs.12/19/2014 - 8:52am
MaskedPixelantehttp://uplay.ubi.com/#!/en-US/events/uplay-15-days You can win FREE GAMES FOR A YEAR! Unfortunately, they're Ubisoft games.12/18/2014 - 6:29pm
Papa MidnightAh, so it was downtime. I've been seeing post appear in my RSS feed, but I was unable to access GamePolitics today across several ISPs.12/18/2014 - 6:06pm
james_fudgeSorry for the downtime today, folks.12/18/2014 - 5:54pm
PHX Corphttp://www.craveonline.com/gaming/articles/801575-sony-refuses-offer-refund-playstation-game-fraudulently-purchased-hacker Sony Refuses to Offer Refund for PlayStation Game Fraudulently Purchased by Hacker12/18/2014 - 1:43pm
NeenekoMakes sense to me, and sounds kinda cool. One cool thing about Minecraft is the meta game, you can implement other game types within its mechanics. There are servers out there with plots, an episodic single player one sound kinda cool12/18/2014 - 11:07am
MaskedPixelantehttps://mojang.com/announcing-minecraft-story-mode/ Umm... what?12/18/2014 - 10:24am
NeenekoThat would make sense. Theaters probably can not afford the liability worry or a drop in ticket sales from worried people. Sony on the other hand can take a massive writeoff, and might even be able to bypass distribution contracts for greater profit.12/18/2014 - 10:03am
ConsterNeeneko: I thought they cancelled it because the major cinema franchises were too scared of terrorist attacks to show the film?12/18/2014 - 9:55am
Neeneko@Wonderkarp - there is still a lot of debate regarding if the movie was a motive or not. Unnamed officials say yes, the timeline says no.12/18/2014 - 9:10am
NeenekoSomething does not smell right though, Sony is no stranger to being hacked, so why cancel this film? For that matter, they are still not giving in to hacker's original demands as far as I know.12/18/2014 - 9:06am
PHX Corp@prh99 Not to mention the Dangerous Precedent that sony's hacking scandal just set http://mashable.com/2014/12/17/sony-hackers-precedent/12/18/2014 - 8:25am
 

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