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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

FTC WARNS CHINA-BASED MOBILE APP DEVELOPER ABOUT COLLECTING CHILDREN'S PERSONAL INFORMATION

FROM:  U.S. FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION 
FTC Warns Children’s App Maker BabyBus About Potential COPPA Violations
Letter Notes Company’s Apps Appear to Collect Children’s Location Info

The staff of the Federal Trade Commission sent a letter to a China-based developer of mobile applications directed to children, warning that the company may be in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule.

In the letter, the FTC notes that it appears the child-directed applications marketed by the company, BabyBus, appear to collect precise geolocation information about users. The letter notes that the company does not get parents’ consent before collecting children’s personal information, which would appear to violate the COPPA Rule.

The letter notes that the applications, available on the Apple App Store, Amazon App Store and Google Play, have been downloaded millions of times. The apps are clearly directed to children from ages one to six, including apps that teach letters, numbers and shapes. The letter was also sent to the three application marketplaces.

The COPPA Rule requires companies collecting personal information from children under 13 to post clear privacy policies and to notify parents and get their consent before collecting or sharing any information from a child. The rule was revised in 2013 to adapt to the growth of mobile technology aimed at children.

The letter asks the company to evaluate its apps and determine whether they may be in violation, as well as informing the company that the Commission will review the apps again in the next month to ensure they are in compliance with the rule.

The Commission vote to authorize public release of the letter was 5-0.