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Class Action Alleges That Disney is Spying on Young App Users — Our Chicago Privacy Protection Lawyers Pursue Privacy Rights Class Actions

Even those of us who have come to terms with the fact that companies and advertisers track everything we do online aren’t ready to compromise their children’s privacy. In fact, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) is a federal law that was put in place specifically to do exactly what it sounds like: protect the privacy of children when they’re online.

But Disney, along with some of its software partners, allegedly violated this law by embedding trackers in some of the entertainment company’s most popular apps that tracked users’ information and allegedly distributed it to other companies and advertisers. As an entertainment company that primarily targets children, many of the users whose information is being tracked and disseminated are children aged 13 and younger.

The lawsuit lists dozens of popular Disney apps, including Cars Lightening League and Maleficent Free Fall, that, once downloaded, allowed the trackers embedded in the apps to collect the information and then extract it from the smart devices so it could be disseminated for commercial purposes – all without the knowledge or consent of the children’s parents, the lawsuit claims.

According to Jeffrey Chester, the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, Disney should not be using the software companies listed in the complaint. He says they involve heavy-duty technologies designed to track and monetize information on people, and as such, should not be working with a company that targets young children.

With an entertainment giant like Disney, we’re talking about a lot of data. Apps like “Disney Princess Palace Pets” have received thousands of reviews and “Moana Island Life” alone has been downloaded at least 1 million times and possibly as many as 5 million times. Multiply those numbers over dozens of games and we’re talking about a formidable number of upset parents.

The class action lawsuit was filed in San Francisco on behalf of Amanda Rushing and her child, but the class is seeking to represent customers in 35 states.

Unity, Kochava, and Upsight, three software developers for Disney, were also listed as defendants in the lawsuit. None of them have released statements, although Disney has publicly denied having done anything wrong, saying the lawsuit is “misguided” and founded on a misunderstanding of how the COPPA works. But Disney apparently intends to educate the plaintiffs on COPPA, saying it has every intention of defending itself in court.

Despite its insistence that it strictly adheres to the COPPA, this is not the first time Disney has had to deal with allegations that it violated the federal children’s privacy law. Six years ago, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), penalized Playdom, a Disney subsidiary, $3 million, after finding the company had registered more than a million users (mostly children) for online games and included the users’ sensitive information as part of their online profiles.

According to the FTC, online services targeting users aged 13 and under are required to display a privacy policy that is written in language plain enough to make it easy to understand. It must provide information about the kind of information being collected, what might be done with that data, and how parents can give their consent.

Our Oak Brook, Illinois consumer rights private law firm handles individual and class action gift card, data breach, privacy rights, deceptive advertising, predatory lending, unfair debt collection, lemon law and other consumer fraud cases that government agencies and public interest law firms such as the Illinois Attorney General may not pursue. Class action lawsuits our law firm has been involved in or spear-headed have led to substantial awards totalling over a million dollars to organizations including the National Association of Consumer Advocatesthe National Consumer Law Center, and local law school consumer programs. The Chicago consumer lawyers at DiTommaso Lubin Austermuehle are proud of our achievements in assisting national and local consumer rights organizations obtain the funds needed to ensure that consumers are protected and informed of their rights. By standing up to consumer fraud and consumer rip-offs, and in the right case filing consumer protection lawsuits and class-actions you too can help ensure that other consumers’ rights are protected from consumer rip-offs and unscrupulous or dishonest practices.

Our Naperville and Schaumburg consumer attorneys provide assistance in data breach, privacy violation, fair debt collection, consumer fraud and consumer rights cases including in Illinois and throughout the country. You can click here to see a description of the some of the many individual and class-action consumer cases our Chicago consumer lawyers have handled. A video of our lawsuit which helped ensure more fan friendly security at Wrigley Field can be found here. You can contact one of our Evanston and Oak Park consumer protection, gift card and data breach attorneys who can assist in consumer fraud, consumer rip-off, lemon law, unfair debt collection, predatory lending, wage claims, unpaid overtime and other consumer, or consumer class action cases by filling out the contact form at the side of this blog or by clicking here.  You can also call our toll-free number at (877) 990-4990.