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>> ALERT MOBILE APP DEVELOPER SETTLES COPPA SUIT A developer of children’s apps and its two owners settled a lawsuit brought by the New Jersey Attorney General alleging violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Under the settlement, the app developer, 24x7digital, LLC (24x7digital), agreed to: >>> stop collecting and transmitting personal data of children without notifying parents and obtaining parental consent, and >>> destroy all such data that it had previously collected and transmitted to third parties. The New Jersey Attorney General, Jeffrey Chiesa, filed the complaint on June 6, 2012 against 24x7digital, the developer and operator of the “TeachMe” series of apps targeted to children under 13 for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. The “TeachMe” apps are among the topselling apps in the education category of Apple’s App Store. 24x7digital promotes the “TeachMe” apps as having a “simple and intuitive” interface that “allows children to play without help from an adult.” According to the complaint, children who used the “TeachMe” apps were encouraged by 24x7digital to provide their first and last names and a picture of themselves when creating player profiles, without obtaining parental consent. The complaint further alleged that the apps transmitted the children’s personal information – including their first and last names – as well as the unique device identification number that identifies the specific mobile device used by the child – to a data analytics company.
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THE BOTTOM LINE Federal and state regulators are actively monitoring mobile apps and will continue to expand their efforts to ensure that apps and sites subject to COPPA are in full compliance. Accordingly, marketers and members of the mobile app industry should pay close attention to these developments in light of increased scrutiny of the online collection of children’s personal data, particularly with respect to mobile apps.
WHAT THIS MEANS
Under the settlement, 24x7digital and its officers, agents, representatives, and employees are enjoined from:
In announcing the settlement with 24x7digital, Attorney General Chiesa indicated that his office is “proactively investigating mobile apps.” As such, there may be additional COPPA actions, similar to the one filed against 24x7digital, in the near future.
>>> failing to provide notice on 24x7digital’s website or its mobile device applications of the types of personal information they collect from children, how they use this information, and whether they disclose this information to third parties; >>> failing to provide direct notice to parents of the types of personal information they collect from children, how they use this information, and whether they disclose this information to third parties; >>> failing to obtain verifiable parental consent before the collection, use, and/or disclosure of personal information from children; and >>> engaging in any conduct in violation of COPPA or the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) COPPA Rule.
In other COPPA developments, the FTC announced that its long-anticipated revisions to COPPA will be released in the fall.
FOR MORE INFORMATION Allison Fitzpatrick Partner 212.468.4866 [email protected]
Alison Winter Associate 212.468.4976 [email protected]
or the D&G attorney with whom you have regular contact.
Davis & Gilbert LLP T: 212.468.4800 1740 Broadway, New York, NY 10019 www.dglaw.com © 2012 Davis & Gilbert LLP