FTC Announces Settlement on Privacy Protection Violations

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The FTC recently reached a settlement with an online talent search company regarding alleged violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which is aimed at protecting the safety and privacy of children by prohibiting unauthorized collection of children’s personal information online.  Under the settlement, the FTC obtained a permanent injunction against the company for future violations of COPPA and the FTC Act, along with a civil penalty of $235,000.

Here, the FTC alleged in its complaint that the talent search company violated COPPA by, among other things, collecting children’s personal information on its website, including the information of children under 13, and disclosing children’s personal information without accurately describing the collection, use or disclosure practices for children under 13.  The company allegedly failed to implement privacy safeguards to protect children’s private information (including names, ages, contact information, physical descriptions, and photographs) from the public, and failed to adequately ensure that user profiles were created by legal guardians rather than underage users.  These inadequate privacy measures violated the website’s own stated privacy policy which represented to consumers that the company did not knowingly collect personal information from children under 13.  The FTC further alleged that the privacy policy was also improper because there was no requirement that it be reviewed or agreed to as a prerequisite for account registration.

An FTC announcement regarding the settlement may be viewed here.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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