The Children’s Advertising Review Unit recently found that Tilting Point Media violated COPPA and CARU’s Self-Regulatory Guidelines for Advertising and for Children’s Online Privacy. Tilting Point is the operator of the SpongeBob: Krusty Cook-Off app. The case arose as part of CARU’s routine monitoring of child directed content.Continue Reading CARU Strikes Again: Another Mixed-audience App Settles Over COPPA Allegations

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.Continue Reading Children’s App Settles with CARU Over COPPA and Guideline Violation Allegations

The FTC recently took two well-publicized steps in the children’s privacy space. First, it penalized WW International (formerly, Weight Watchers) and its subsidiary, Kurbo, for alleged COPPA violations. Second, it unanimously voted to adopt a new policy statement on education technology and COPPA. These actions follow its March COPPA settlement with TickTalk Tech.Continue Reading FTC Continues Focus on Children’s Privacy

The Children’s Advertising Review Unit recently settled with TickTalk Tech, LLC over its information collection practices. CARU, a self-regulatory body that reaches voluntary settlements with companies, conducts regular audits of privacy practices by companies in the child space. During one such audit, it identified concerns over TickTalk Tech’s kids smart watch, TickTalk4.
Continue Reading Smart Watch Maker Settles with CARU Over Privacy Policy and Parental Consent

The FTC recently announced the removal of Aristotle International, Inc. from the list of seven approved safe harbor programs under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Programs that are approved by the FTC must place requirements on participating organizations that are the same -or greater- than the requirements of COPPA. (As we have reported in the past, COPPA requires, inter alia, getting verified parental consent before collecting personal information from children online.) Companies that participate in those approved COPPA safe harbor programs are deemed in compliance with COPPA. Such protection can be valuable with a law, like COPPA, that has been found to be confusing to operationalize.
Continue Reading A COPPA First: Safe Harbor Program Removed From Approved List

Throughout 2020 we saw many enforcement actions brought by EU and U.S. regulators. Whether for allegations of deception (misleading privacy representations) or unfairness (failure to protect information), COVID did not appear to slow down regulatory action. Laws that many companies forget about -or don’t know as well- were enforced by regulators, as well as through class action lawsuits. This included the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, Illinois’s Biometric Information Privacy Act, and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
Continue Reading 2020 In Review: Ongoing Enforcement Actions and a Patchwork of Privacy Laws

In this remote era, companies are increasingly being approached by their business teams with ideas about products and services that involve video or audio recordings of their consumers. It may also involve letting people manipulate photos of themselves. Sometimes, those recordings and pictures are of children. Content that contain images or audio of individuals are considered personal information under many laws, including the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). What does this mean for companies? As we discussed in our previous blog post, COPPA requires obtaining parental consent if the personal information collected is being collected by the company online, and being collected from the child. The FTC’s recently streamlined FAQs help companies find and understand obligations if collecting photos or recordings from children. Namely, a reminder that this content is personal, and does require verifiable parental consent before being collected.
Continue Reading Back to School Special: Recordings, Photos, Kids, and Parental Consent

HyperBeard, the makers of several children’s mobile apps (including KleptoCats), recently settled with the FTC over failure to obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting children’s personal information online, in violation of COPPA. In its complaint, the FTC argued that the HyperBeard apps were clearly directed to children. The apps contained brightly-colored animated characters, kid-friendly language, games that were easy to play, and were promoted on kids’ websites and publications.
Continue Reading KleptoCats Maker Settles with FTC Over Failure to Get Parental Consent

The FTC recently released its annual privacy and security report, providing a snapshot of the issues focused on in the previous year. These reports are often looked at as a signal for insights into the agency’s upcoming priorities. Generally, the report contains a summary of the FTC’s enforcement, advocacy, and rulemaking actions from 2019, a year where we saw several record-setting fines. The report also discusses privacy/security workshops, consumer education, and international engagement. Some of the highlights from 2019 discussed in the report include:
Continue Reading FTC Releases 2019 Privacy and Security Year in Review

The Federal Trade Commission is requesting comments and input on the effectiveness of the 2013 amendments it made to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule. Although the FTC typically reviews its rules every ten years, it is doing so early because of rapid changes in and children’s expanded use of technology. Part of the input it is seeking is whether the COPPA Rule should be updated again. Among the specific input the FTC has requested, it wants to know if companies and other interested parties believe that the Rule should be amended to include websites and online services that are not directed at children but have large numbers of child users.
Continue Reading FTC Seeks Comments on COPPA Rule

The NJ attorney general recently announced that it settled with a Chinese entity over violations of COPPA. The company promotes itself as a “virtual beauty counter,” and makes a variety of apps that let consumers virtually try on makeup. These apps include facial recognition technology, as well as photo-editing tools that allow users to customize and touch up their photos (the apps include Beauty Plus, AirBrush, and Meitu). The apps, according to the AG, allowed children under 13 to submit personal information without first getting parental consent, in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.
Continue Reading NJ AG Settles with Chinese Firm Over COPPA Violations, FTC Sends Warning Letters