As technology becomes a part of everyday life, it is becoming increasingly important for parents to protect the information that is collected online from their children. If your child is under 13 years of age, you have the right to control who is given your child’s name, address, telephone number, email address and information companies use to track your child’s online activity.
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) requires websites to obtain parental permission before gathering personal information from your children and the site must abide by your decisions on how that information is used.
The FTC has recently reached a settlement with two app developers, LAI Systems, LLC, and Retro Dreamer, that failed to follow the law. The cases are the first where the FTC alleges that the developers permitted advertisers to use persistent identifiers to focus advertising to children. A persistent identifier is a piece of data that is tied to a specific user or electronic device.
According to the FTC, both developers created apps specifically focused on minors. When these companies permitted third-party advertisers to obtain personal data from children in the form of unique persistent identifiers, it violated the law. The developers failed to notify the ad networks that the apps focused on minors, nor did they require the advertisers to follow the collection requirements set forth in COPPA. Finally, they also failed to provide notice or obtain permission from the children’s parents to collect or use the information.
The FTC alleged that both developers created apps directed to children. According to the FTC, the companies allowed third-party advertisers to collect personal information from children in the form of unique persistent identifiers. But defendants didn’t tell the ad networks that the apps were directed to children, or require them to follow COPPA’s collection requirements. What’s more, LAI and Retro Dreamer didn’t give notice or get permission from parents for collecting and using the information.
The FTC’s settlement requires LAI Systems, LLC, to pay a civil penalty of $60,000, and Retro Dreamer (and its principals) to pay a civil penalty of $300,000. The FTC will continue to supervise both companies to ensure future compliance.
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