Recently, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) declared a settlement of $150,000 with HyperBeard, the developer of a bunch of children’s mobile games. HyperBeard has violated U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Rule (COPPA RULE).
Back in May, TikTok violated child protection laws and now Hyperbeard infringes the same laws. The Dept. of Justice on behalf of the FTC filed the complaint against HyperBeared that it violates the COPPA rules by enabling the third-party ad networks to obtain personal information in the form of persistent identifiers and to track users of the company’s child-centric games.
What Are COPPA Guidelines?
The main goal of COPPA is to empower parents. They should know what information kids disclose and companies accumulate. Here are a few quick guidelines of the rule.
- The rule guards children under age 13 keeping in mind the progressive nature of the Internet.
- This rule refers to operators of commercial websites and online services (including mobile apps) directed to minors under 13 that collect, manage, or reveal personal information from children.
- The rule also applies to websites or online services that obtains the information of the end user. Such platforms may collect personal information directly or from users of another website or online service directed to children.
What Are HyperBeard’s Games?
The HyperBeard’s Games include games like Axolochi, BunnyBuns, Chichens, Clawbert, Clawberta, KleptoCats, KleptoCats 2, KleptoDogs, etc. HyperBeard’s apps use bright colors, cartoon characters, and other child-friendly words like “super cute” and “silly”, etc. Also, these apps are very famous for cute animated characters like chicks, monkeys, and bunnies.
Moreover, this company promoted its games on the kids’ entertainment website, YayOMG. It also published kid’s books and licensed other products, that include stuffed toys, block construction sets, etc created on the app’s characters.
But strangely after doing this all, the company posted disclaimers to its marketing materials. The disclaimer states that these apps are not for children under 13. Also, a few games are addictive. That’s why recently, parents have started using Bit Guardian Parental Control that saves their kids from app addiction and possible online hazards.
The Claims And The Settlement
The HyperBeard agreed to pay a $150,000 fine and delete all the personal data it illegally obtained from children under the age of 13. The settlement had basically included a $4 million penalty, but the FTC rejected it over HyperBeard’s failure to pay the full amount.
HyperBeard used (rather misused) children’s data without notifying parents. The company should obtain valid parental consent, as is required. And now the company is paying a high price for it!