Los Angeles-based app developer 24x7digital has been accused of collecting personal information from children and passing it to a third-party company without parental consent. New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa filed a suit this week alleging a breach of the country’s COPPA laws.
24x7 is the firm behind ‘TeachMe’, a series of strong-selling apps for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch spanning ages from ‘TeachMe: Toddler’ to ‘TeachMe: 2nd Grade’ and providing a ‘simple and intuitive’ interface allowing children to play ‘without help from an adult’, according to the lawsuit. Children are encouraged to give their first and last names plus a picture, and this information is allegedly transmitted to analytics partner Flurry
along with a unique device identification number, in breach of COPPA (the federal Children's Online Privacy Protection Act).
Chiesa said his office was ‘proactively’ investigating mobile apps as part of an ongoing initiative against online privacy violations and fraud. He added: ‘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.’
24x7 exec Rei Yoshioka, cited as a defendant alongside his colleague Mark Yamashita, told Online Media Daily the firm has now ‘removed all analytics functionality’ from the apps and is committed to complying with all laws including COPPA. The suit will seek the destruction of all data collected from children by the apps. Earlier this year, an FTC report said app developers, advertisers and stores should do more to ensure apps explain their privacy practices to parents.