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Mobile devs pay FTC $360k to settle charges they violated kids' privacy

Two mobile game companies are paying the Federal Trade Commission a combined $360,000 in civil penalties to settle charges their games violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA.)

The Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement this week that sees two mobile game companies paying a combined $360,000 in civil penalties to settle charges their games violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by allowing advertisers to collect personally-identifying data on kids.

The fact that the FTC is making a show of enforcing COPPA is notable because it's over a quarter of a million dollars' worth of reminder that your games should be COPPA-compliant if there's a chance they could collect personal information about a player under the age of 13, or be used to do so.

That's effectively what happened in this latest settlement with developers LAI Systems and Retro Dreamer, which the FTC claims is the first time it's taken companies to task for violating the latest version of COPPA by allowing advertisers to collect personally-identifying data about children.

The former was accused of creating mobile games and apps aimed at kids (My Cake Shop, Marley the Talking Dog) and allowing third-party advertisers to collect personally-identifying information from players of those games without either getting consent from the players or letting advertisers know the games were targeted at children. 

The latter, Happy Poo Jump (pictured) developer Retro Dreamer, was accused of making games for kids and letting advertisers collect personal info through them, even after one advertising partner explicitly warned the developer that they were violating COPPA. 

Retro Dreamer wound up paying $300,000 in civil penalties, while LAI Systems paid $60,000. If you're curious about ways to ensure your own games are COPPA-compliant, consider checking out the Gamasutra blog of COPPA buff Roy Smith, who founded COPPA compliance aid AgeCheq in 2013.

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