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Disney Sued For Allegedly Spying On Children Through 42 Gaming Apps (washingtonpost.com) 40

schwit1 shares a report from The Washington Post (Warning: may be paywalled; alternative source): The Walt Disney Co. secretly collects personal information on some of their youngest customers and shares that data illegally with advertisers without parental consent, according to a federal lawsuit filed late last week in California. The class-action suit targets Disney and three other software companies -- Upsight, Unity and Kochava -- alleging that the mobile apps they built together violate the law by gathering insights about app users across the Internet, including those under the age of 13, in ways that facilitate "commercial exploitation."

The plaintiffs argue that Disney and its partners violated COPPA, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, a federal law designed to protect the privacy of children on the Web. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Northern California, seeks an injunction barring the companies from collecting and disclosing the data without parental consent, as well as punitive damages and legal fees. The lawsuit alleges that Disney allowed the software companies to embed trackers in apps such as "Disney Princess Palace Pets" and "Where's My Water? 2." Once installed, tracking software can then "exfiltrate that information off the smart device for advertising and other commercial purposes," according to the suit. Disney should not be using those software development companies, said Jeffrey Chester, the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. "These are heavy-duty technologies, industrial-strength data and analytic companies whose role is to track and monetize individuals," Chester said. "These should not be in little children's apps."
Disney responded to the lawsuit, saying: "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."
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Disney Sued For Allegedly Spying On Children Through 42 Gaming Apps

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Of course kids are targeted and exploited for commercial gain. Go look at how tons of various "for kids" food items are marketed toward them. Cereals and yogurts are the first to spring to mind. Also soda, chips and fruit snacks.

    It should come as no surprise app developers are collecting data about their users, regardless of age. It also should come as no surprise that they are selling this information to companies that dearly want to know how to offer you a solution for something you didn't even realize wa

  • More laws! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2017 @06:51PM (#54979481)
    I propose a companion law to give it more teeth. It could be called the Financial and Economic Exploitation Law. They could then be known collectively as COPPA-FEEL
  • by Rick Schumann ( 4662797 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2017 @06:52PM (#54979495) Journal
    It's a spy world, it's a spy world
    It's a spy world, it's a spy world

    It's a world of data, a world of tears
    It's a world of ads and a world of fears
    There's so much that we share, that it's time we're aware
    It's a spy world after all

    (Everybody now) it's a spy world after all, it's a spy world after all
    (Everybody now) it's a spy world after all, it's a spy, spy, spy, spy world
  • by zlives ( 2009072 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2017 @07:06PM (#54979581)

    "The complaint is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of COPPA principles" translates to
    when our lobbyists wrote the COPPA law for the lawmakers, they provided enough loop holes for us to continue to fuck with you. thus we know the material of the law better because we wrote it.

    now... if it comes to the "spirit" of the law... if any one cares that is, they might be fucked as well.

    • translates to when our lobbyists wrote the COPPA law for the lawmakers

      Not at all. It's like saying that a jaywalking law must have been written by the car lobby because it didn't stop someone from running me over.

      COPPA applies to how you protect the information of a minor. It means you have a privacy policy, and it also means you got parental consent (which you must have because children aren't allowed to download apps from Google Play so consent is explicit).

      Not only will it most likely turn out that there's no breach, but quite likely all the COPPA stuff is explicitly in pl

  • This would make a good Silicon Valley episode about COPPA.

    Oh, wait... Never mind...

  • Disney's probable defense: "We DIDN'T KNOW that the data-mining contractors we hired to build our apps would actually data-mine our customers."

    It's indeed reckless and suspicious, but unless one can prove Disney actually knew, they may get off the hook.

    I once worked for a big company who rented H1B visa workers from a fly-by-night contractor who mistreated the visa workers. If visa abuse were found, the big company could deny any wrong-doing by saying the contractor's staff was the contractor's responsibili

  • Didn't Disney give Steve Jobs a controlling stake in exchange for Pixar?

    So in essence it's really Pixar and Steve Jobs' estate, or Laurene Powell then.

    Somewhat ironically her bio on Wikipedia says she "...advocates for policies concerning education and immigration reform, social justice and environmental conservation.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      She owns a 4% stake. Maybe you should do some research on that next time. But then, that wasn't really the point of your post now was it? The truth eludes you.

  • Here's a translation of Disney's answer: HAHA, we are a big company in America, we are protected by law to spy on you.
  • The complaint is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of COPPA principles...

    The law does not mean what you think it means...

  • Once in awhile, a company gets called out for tracking, such as in this case -- but they are by no means the only offenders. There are plenty of other companies out there who are simply more adept at not getting caught. One of the things that you'll see every time you open an app with an obviously youthful target audience, is an initial query when the app is first opened: "How old are you?" The obvious takeaway should be, if the user opening the app is under thirteen, turn off tracking... right?

    But consid

  • I imagine Trump will put an end to this madness soon. Good luck guys. "Regulations" are evil, remember that.

You can measure a programmer's perspective by noting his attitude on the continuing viability of FORTRAN. -- Alan Perlis