updated 04:50 pm EDT, Mon August 15, 2011
Apps collected info without parental consent
W3 Innovations -- better known as Broken Thumbs Apps -- has agreed to pay $50,000 to settle Federal Trade Commission charges of violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, the Wall Street Journal says. Broken Thumbs develops a variety of iPhone games. Several of these, though, are accused of having collected thousands of email address for kids under the age of 13. Among the culprit titles are Emily's Girl World, Emily's Dress Up, Emily's Dress Up & Shop, and Emily's Runway High Fashion.
The FTC's allegations add that Broken Thumbs allowed children to post public comments on forums, including personal information. COPPA requires website owners to obtain parental consent before collecting, using or sharing a child's personal information. Broken Thumbs didn't provide any notification of collection practices, or ask for verifiable parental consent, the FTC charges.
The case is significant or several reasons. It is for instance the first time the FTC has applied COPPA to apps. Similar privacy violations have also cropped up on the iOS App Store in the past, although the targets were adults, from which information was taken involuntarily. Better enforcement by Apple has mostly eliminated such incidents.