Broken Thumbs fined for collecting data on kids

iPhone games such as Emily’s Girl World collected data without parents' consent
Kerry Butters
Kerry Butters -

iphones

A mobile app developer has been fined $50,000 for collecting children’s data in a violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

The developer, Broken Thumbs Apps, distributes mobile apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch such as Emily’s Girl World, which are aimed at children and were listed in the “Games-Kids” section of the App Store.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged the company with “illegally collecting and disclosing personal information from tens of thousands of children under age 13 without their parents’ prior consent.”

“The FTC’s COPPA Rule requires parental notice and consent before collecting children’s personal information online, whether through a website or a mobile app,” said Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “Companies must give parents the opportunity to make smart choices when it comes to their children’s sharing of information on smart phones.”

The apps have been downloaded over 50,000 times and the Emily apps encouraged children to email “Emily” their comments as well as submit blogs to the app.

The FTC alleges that the company collected thousands of email addresses from users and allowed them to publicly post personal information on message boards.

The COPPA rules ask that operators notify parents and gain permission before they collect, use or disclose kids’ personal information. They also stipulate that companies should post a clear and understandable privacy policy.

As well as the fine, Broken Thumbs has been ordered to delete all personal information they currently hold.

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