New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced that his office and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs have filed a federal suit “against a mobile app developer whose educational games allegedly collect personal information from children, then transmit the information to a third-party company without notifying parents or obtaining their consent.” The suit concerns the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), 15 U.S.C. §§ 6501-6508, which was passed in 1998.
The lawsuit is the first filed as a result of the Division’s ongoing initiative against Internet privacy violations and acts of cyber-fraud. It is also the first lawsuit filed by the Division pursuant to the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
“Mobile devices can capture and transmit a wealth of personal information about users, including their identities and even their geographic location. When we find that companies are using this ability to transmit information about children without their parents’ knowledge or consent, we will take immediate action,” Attorney General Chiesa said. […]
The State filed suit on June 6, 2012 in U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, against Los Angeles-based 24x7digital, LLC, the developer and operator of the “TeachMe” series of apps for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The series includes “TeachMe: Toddler,” “TeachMe: Kindergarten,” “TeachMe: 1st Grade,” and “TeachMe: 2nd Grade,” educational games targeted to children of those age groups. […]
Children who use the “TeachMe” apps are encouraged by 24×7 to provide their first and last names, and a picture of themselves, when creating player profiles. Division of Consumer Affairs investigators found that the apps allegedly transmitted personal information – including the first and last names provided by users, as well as the unique device identification number (UDID) that identifies the specific mobile device a player is using – to a third-party data analytics company.
The State alleges that, by collecting personal information from children and transmitting it to a third party, without providing notification of this policy on its website and without obtaining consent from the young players’ parents, 24×7 is in violation of COPPA.
Attorney General Chiesa noted that the Division of Consumer Affairs is continuing its investigation into other mobile applications and their possible unlawful sharing of users’ private information.