Disney sued for allegedly illegally collecting data on children with smartphone apps
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It's not uncommon to see children who aren't old enough to walk playing with a smartphone or tablet, but the axiom "if the product is free, then you're the product" remains true — regardless of who the user is. Thus, Disney and software companies Unity, Upsight, and Kochava are facing a class-action lawsuit alleging that the Walt Disney Company is violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) of 1999 by collecting and selling the data of (young) users to advertisers.
COPPA stipulates that companies that design apps for children under 13 years of age (which at least some of the 42 apps included in the complaint would be hard to argue are not, such as "Disney Princess: Charmed Adventures"), must obtain parental consent before collecting personal information. The plaintiffs of the class-action suit are seeking costs and damages as well as an injunction against the data collection.
Disney released a statement in response to the suit, claiming:
“Disney has a robust COPPA compliance program, and we maintain strict data collection and use policies for Disney apps created for children and families. The complaint is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of COPPA principles, and we look forward to defending this action in court.”