Firefly Games agreed to take corrective action in response to the Children’s Advertising Review Unit’s allegations that the company had violated COPPA by inaccurately (and confusingly) explaining its privacy practices. The app in question, LOL Surprise! Room Makeover, featured dolls and characters intended for children and animated characters. It also included content directed to adult users. CARU concluded as part of its routine reviews that, inter alia, the app was “mixed audience.” As such, the app needed to comply with not only CARU’s guidelines, but the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act as well.
In response to CARU’s concerns, Firefly Games noted that the app had passed Google’s review process for family advertising. CARU found this unpersuasive, stating “that an app developer cannot rely on a platform’s guidelines or requirements as a substitute for complying with the CARU Ad Guidelines.” Firefly Games agreed to take corrective action to address CARU’s concerns.
Putting It Into Practice: This case is a reminder that mixed audience sites are expected to have a process for obtaining verifiable parental consent if collecting personal information from children. Additionally, it serves as a caution to child-directed and general audience websites alike to ensure that privacy statements are consistent, and are an accurate reflection of actual practices.