The collection of user data is a sensitive issue as it raises all sorts of questions regarding privacy. It can be as innocent as requesting for an email address and right down to questionable when collecting and storing a user’s location without their knowledge. The FTC has recently slapped W3 Innovations with a $50,000 fine for the collection of data of children from their apps without their knowledge.
For those unfamiliar, W3 Innovations is the parent company of Broken Thumbs Apps, which has produced iOS children’s applications such as Zombie Duck Hunt and Emily’s Dress Up. It seems that the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) applies even to mobile apps like the ones mentioned earlier.
COPPA was created to protect minors on the internet and requires websites to obtain parental consent when collecting data on children who are below the age of 13. As we just mentioned, this act applies to apps too as W3 Innovations just found out.
Apparently over 30,000 email addresses and personal information have been collected, including user names from 600 people, many of whom were apparently under the age of 13. The company was slapped with a fine which they have decided not to dispute and have also agreed to delete said personal information off their servers.
This should probably be a wake up call to parents around the world who allow their children to surf the internet and download and use apps unchecked. Despite companies who may legitimately be collecting the data for marketing purposes, there are malicious users out there who may have other plans for the data should they get their hands on it.
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