Published: Fri, August 11, 2017
Science | By Hubert Green

Lawsuit Claims Disney Apps Track, Collect Kids' Digital Information Illegally

Lawsuit Claims Disney Apps Track, Collect Kids' Digital Information Illegally

The apps - which the plaintiffs collectively referred to as the "game tracking apps" - named in the complaint include Disney Princess Palace Pets, AvengersNet, Beauty and the Beast: Perfect Match; Cars Lightening League; Zootopia Crime Files: Hidden Object; Frozen Free Fall; Frozen Free Fall: Icy Shot; Inside Out Thought Bubbles; Moana Island Life; Olaf's Adventures; Star Wars: Puzzle Droids; Star Wars: Commander; Maleficent Free Fall; Club Penguin Island; Color by Disney; Disney Color and Play; Disney Crossy Road; Disney Dream Treats; Disney Emoji Blitz; and Disney Gif.

A federal class action lawsuit has taken form in California, alleging that a number of apps and games owned by the Walt Disney Company violate privacy protection laws and illegally collect the personal information of children. The lawsuit claims that this violates the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which was enacted by Congress in 1999.

The law requires companies making apps aimed at children below the age of 13 to obtain their parents' consent before giving their personal information. "These should not be in little children's apps".

Rushing alleged that Disney never notified her that it was collecting data that she claims could be used to track children.

This is leaving a bad taste in the mouths of those who believe that the Disney Corporation is betraying not only the spirit of its brand but also the letter of the law. COPPA is managed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). And a child of 12 is more than capable of subscribing to an app without any knowledge of those parents.

Because this is to do with kids and apps we sort of assumed that this would be about privacy, and it is. Though COPPA requires consent from parents for companies to gather personally identifiable information about children, defining that information - and the improper collection of it - becomes more hard as technology gets more sophisticated.

It's not the first time Disney has been on the wrong end of a COPPA violation. In 2011, a Disney subsidiary, Playdom was fined $3 million after the company was found to have registered around 1.2 million users, a lot of them minors, for online games.

However, the problem that many parents and regulatory authorities face is that Disney is a behemoth.

Disney, however, is nonplussed at the latest COPPA-related suit against them; the last major one in 2011 had them pay $3 million in damages on account of apps violating the Act developed by their subsidiary Playdom. She has a background in information technology and has worked with various software companies and tech startups on their public relations and communications initiatives.

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