Published: Fri, August 11, 2017
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

Disney Sued for Tracking Kids on Mobile Games

Disney Sued for Tracking Kids on Mobile Games

The suit states that this practice violates the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which was established in 1999 and created to protect children's privacy online.

The law requires companies making apps aimed at children below the age of 13 to obtain their parents' consent before giving their personal information.

Last week a California mother, Amanda Rushing of San Francisco, filed a federal class action lawsuit against Disney and software firms Upsight, Unity, and Kochava. Such information is then, allegedly, sold to third-party companies under the table. The trackers collect information related to a child's mobile app usage, the child's geographical location, and the internet browsing history outside of the mobile apps, according to the lawsuit. "For instance, little girls are likely to be massive fans of the "#Disney Princess" franchise, and they might probably indulge their fandom through playing a variety of game apps that the House of Mouse has put out. "Congress enacted the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act ("COPPA") for very good reasons", said Michael W. Sobol, one of the lawyers who filed the suit. It was expanded in 2013 by the Federal Trade Commission to include geolocation markers and IP addresses. It asks that Disney is forced through an injunction to stop tracking children without consent, but also that "appropriate relief" be awarded covering "actual and statutory damages and punitive damages, plus costs".

"Disney collects and maintains personal information about the users of the game tracking apps, including users under the age of 13, and permits the SDK defendants to embed their advertising SDKs to collect those users' personal information and use that information to track those users over time and across different websites and online services".

In a statement issued on August 7, Disney pushed back against the allegations and indicated that it is prepared to defend itself. "Where's My Water? 2", one of the apps listed in the suit, has been installed between 100 and 500 million times, according to the Washington Post.

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At the heart of the matter are several software tools Disney used to create the apps that Rushing believes help transmit data like persistent identifiers back to software tool makers that enable them to "facilitate subsequent behavioral advertising" to children.

"The complaint is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of COPPA principles, and we look forward to defending this action in Court", the company stated.

Disney has been accused of violating COPPA in the past as well.

The lawsuit is blaming Disney and three other software companies: Unity, Upsight, and Kochava.

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