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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Matthew Wilson@pnx I am guessing a ddoss since that is what happened to neogaf, but sony needs to do a investment in psn as a whole. steam is still the most reliable and fastest digital platform I use.07/03/2015 - 3:06pm
PHX Corphttp://www.vg247.com/2015/07/03/psn-is-down-sony-investigating/ not again: PSN is down, Sony investigating07/03/2015 - 3:04pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.vg247.com/2015/07/03/digital-extremes-trespasser-keystone-pc/ if true, this is funny and embarrassing for Digital Extremes. companies need too have better security.07/03/2015 - 2:57pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.gamespot.com/videos/the-point-destiny-the-hardcore-gamers-slot-machine/2300-6425852/ this is very good, and well researched.07/03/2015 - 12:41pm
InfophileOther features to become standard: The ability to remap controls however the hell I want. Quicksave at any time (especially for handheld and mobile games). Plus everything Andrew said07/03/2015 - 10:43am
InfophileRegion-freeing becomes tricky for games with a strong online component though, especially when the servers are run by different branches in different regions.07/03/2015 - 10:41am
InfophileI'm in favor of getting rid of region-locking for any purchased games. I can understand an exception for free, ad-supported games, as many ads are only relevant in certain regions, and it's a ridiculous hassle to get ads for all regions.07/03/2015 - 10:40am
PHX Corphttp://kotaku.com/payday-2-has-been-broken-on-xbox-one-for-three-weeks-1715384186 Payday 2 Has Been Broken On Xbox One For Three Weeks07/03/2015 - 8:44am
Matthew Wilsonhttps://www.reddit.com/r/OutOfTheLoop/comments/3bxduw/why_was_riama_along_with_a_number_of_other_large/ here is a more complete acount of whats going on.07/03/2015 - 1:32am
Matthew Wilsonredit is on fire right now. most subreddits have been set to private.07/03/2015 - 1:24am
MattsworknameYou know andrew, those are actualy rock solid ideas, I woudl like those features a bunch ,especially with games that a cut scene heavly. looking at you kojima!07/03/2015 - 1:18am
Andrew EisenActually, "things I'd like to see become standard in video games" ain't a bad idea for one of my future YouTube videos.07/03/2015 - 1:05am
Andrew EisenYou know what I'd really like to see become standard? The ability to pause cutscenes. Rewind and skip (with "Are you sure?") would be nice too. Oh, and maybe display the duration of the cutscene when it's paused.07/03/2015 - 1:03am
Mattsworknameonly reason to do region locking now is to be dicks your consumer base. Granted, we see that ALOT these days07/03/2015 - 12:48am
MattsworknameI understand the concerns about the region locking thing, I just thing that if you buy a game legitimately, no matter where it's from or what langauge it's in, you should be allowed to play it. the argument about piracy was proven false years ago, the07/03/2015 - 12:47am
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.theverge.com/culture/2015/7/2/8888243/reddit-subreddits-private-after-ama-victoria-taylor-fired bad optics by Reddit.07/03/2015 - 12:33am
Goth_SkunkI'm in full agreement on the subtitles issue. I also believe that every game should come with a single-player component, and be playable without an internet connection. Except MMOs.07/02/2015 - 10:51pm
TechnogeekRegion locking bans seem like something that'll be very difficult to pass into law. I'm fully on board with the subtitle requirement, though.07/02/2015 - 10:00pm
MattsworknameFor example, all games with any for form of spoken dialoge should be i subtitled, and region locking in any form should be illegal07/02/2015 - 9:03pm
MattsworknameDoes anyone feel that there should be a set standard for all games in terms of certain basic features. Ie subtitles, region lock, etc07/02/2015 - 9:01pm
 

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