Lawsuit Accuses Disney of Violating Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act

SHANGHAI, CHINA - JULY 15: (CHINA OUT) Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company, attends the unveilling ceremony of six themed parks of Shanghai Disney Resort at Shanghai Expo Center on July 15, 2015 in Shanghai, China. As the first Disney resort in China …

A San Francisco mother has filed a lawsuit against Disney, claiming that their “Princess Palace Pets” app was used to illegally track her daughter.

On Thursday, Amanda Rushing filed a proposed class action against The Walt Disney Company, as well as Disney Electronic Content. Rushing alleges that advertising software hidden within the “Princess Palace Pets” toy companion mobile application collects personal information, and tracks online behavior.

Michael Sobol, Rushing’s attorney, said in the official complaint:

App developers and their SDK-providing partners can track children’s behavior while they play online games with their mobile devices by obtaining critical pieces of data from the mobile devices, including ‘persistent identifiers,’ typically a unique number linked to a specific mobile device.

These persistent identifiers allow SDK providers to detect a child’s activity across multiple apps and platforms on the internet, and across different devices, effectively providing a full chronology of the child’s actions across devices and apps. This information is then sold to various third-parties who sell targeted online advertising.

Sobol maintains that this is a clear violation of COPPA, which protects children from any company collecting information on a child under the age of 13 without concrete verification of consent by their parent or guardian. In the statement, he plainly states that Disney has “failed to safeguard children’s personal information, and ensure that third-parties’ collection of data from children is lawful.”

And while Rushing’s experience is specific to Princess Palace Pets, other popular children’s’ apps are also on the hook. Among them, Club Penguin Island, Star Wars: Puzzle Droids, Frozen Free Fall and Disney Emoji Blitz.

The suit will potentially include plaintiffs from 35 states, who are under 13, or were when using these apps, as well as their parents or legal guardians.

Follow Nate Church @Get2Church on Twitter for the latest news in gaming and technology, and snarky opinions on both.


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