As reported by Law360 (subscription), on Wednesday, August 6, 2020, Disney, Viacom, Kiloo and other gaming companies reached a proposed settlement agreement with parents who accused them of violating child privacy protection laws by collecting and selling personal identifying information of children who used their child-focused mobile apps. The lawsuits allege the media giants collected kid’s personal data without parental consent and improperly used it to profit via focus and transmit targeted advertising.
As part of the settlement, the media companies have agreed to limit the collection and use of children’s data across thousands of apps and games and to adhere to new and more stringent business practices.
About the Disney & Viacom Class Action Child Privacy Violation Lawsuits
The lawsuit against Viacom was brought by the parent of a child who, while playing Nickelodeon games via smart phone apps, had her personally identifying information exfiltrated by Viacom and its partners for future commercial exploitation in direct violation of the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”), 15 U.S.C. §§ 6501–6506. Plaintiffs also brought their claims under state law to obtain damages and a court injunction forcing the companies to cease these practices and sequester all illegally obtained information.
The lawsuit also names Upsight and Unity, the ad tech companies that embedded software in Viacom’s child-focused Nickelodeon apps to track, collect, and export the children’s personal information. The lawsuit alleges that this software captures children’s personal information along with information about their online behavior, which is then sold to third party companies which track the children’s behavior across multiple apps and devices for subsequent ad targeting.
The lawsuits against The Walt Disney Company as well as developers Kiloo & Sybo, creators of the massively popular “Subway Surfers” smartphone game, were similarly filed on behalf of aggrieved parents. Each of the lawsuits puts forward the same core claims alleging improper data extraction and child information merchandising by the game creators and their tech partners.