On December 4, 2018, the New York Attorney General (“NY AG”) announced that Oath Inc., which was known as AOL Inc. (“AOL”) until June 2017 and is a subsidiary of Verizon Communications Inc., agreed to pay New York a $4.95 million civil penalty following allegations that it had violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) by collecting and disclosing children’s personal information in conducting online auctions for advertising placement. This is the largest-ever COPPA penalty.

Continue Reading AOL Successor Agrees to Pay $4.95 Million in COPPA Enforcement Action

On August 13, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission approved changes to the video game industry’s safe harbor guidelines under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) Rule. COPPA’s “safe harbor” provision enables industry groups to propose self-regulatory guidelines regarding COPPA compliance for FTC approval.  Continue Reading FTC Approves Changes to Video Game Industry’s Safe Harbor Program Under COPPA

On August 3, 2018, California-based Unixiz Inc. (“Unixiz”) agreed to shut down its “i-Dressup” website pursuant to a consent order with the New Jersey Attorney General, which the company entered into to settle charges that it violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) and the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. The consent order also requires Unixiz to pay a civil penalty of $98,618. Continue Reading Unixiz Agrees to Settle Charges Under COPPA and the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act

On April 27, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission issued two warning letters to foreign marketers of geolocation tracking devices for violations of the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”). The first letter was directed to a Chinese company, Gator Group, Ltd., that sold the “Kids GPS Gator Watch” (marketed as a child’s first cellphone); the second was sent to a Swedish company, Tinitell, Inc., marketing a child-based app that works with a mobile phone worn like a watch. Both products collect a child’s precise geolocation data, and the Gator Watch includes geofencing “safe zones.”   Continue Reading FTC Issues Warning Letters for Potential COPPA Violations

On February 5, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced its most recent Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) case against Explore Talent, an online service marketed to aspiring actors and models. According to the FTC’s complaint, Explore Talent provided a free platform for consumers to find information about upcoming auditions, casting calls and other opportunities. The company also offered a monthly fee-based “pro” service that promised to provide consumers with access to specific opportunities. Users who registered online were asked to input a host of personal information including full name, email, telephone number, mailing address and photo; they also were asked to provide their eye color, hair color, body type, measurements, gender, ethnicity, age range and birth date. Continue Reading FTC Brings Its Thirtieth COPPA Case, Against Online Talent Agency

On January 8, 2018, the FTC announced an agreement with electronic toy manufacturer, VTech Electronics Limited and its U.S. subsidiary, settling charges that VTech violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) by collecting personal information from hundreds of thousands of children without providing direct notice or obtaining their parent’s consent, and failing to take reasonable steps to secure the data it collected. Under the agreement, VTech will (1) pay a $650,000 civil penalty; (2) implement a comprehensive data security program, subject to independent audits for 20 years; and (3) comply with COPPA. This is the FTC’s first COPPA case involving connected toys and the Internet of Things.

On June 21, 2017, the Federal Trade Commission updated its guidance, Six-Step Compliance Plan for Your Business, for complying with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”). The FTC enforces the COPPA Rule, which sets requirements regarding children’s privacy and safety online. The updated guidance adds new information on situations where COPPA applies and steps to take for compliance. Continue Reading FTC Releases Guidance on COPPA Compliance

On April 19, 2017, the FTC announced that it is seeking public comment on proposed changes to TRUSTe, Inc.’s safe harbor program under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (the “Proposed Changes”). As we previously reported, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced that TRUSTe agreed to settle allegations that it failed to properly verify that customer websites aimed at children did not run third-party software to track users. The Proposed Changes are a result of the settlement agreement between TRUSTe and the New York Attorney General. Continue Reading FTC Seeks Comment on Proposed Changes to TRUSTe’s COPPA Safe Harbor Program