Lawsuit: Disney gathered private info from children via game apps

A class action lawsuit has been filed against Disney and three software companies for allegedly collecting personal information about children playing games on Disney apps.

The suit says software companies Upsight, Unity and Kochava gathered information about children under the age of 13 via the internet, which could be a violation of federal law under the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

According to the lawsuit, 42 apps violate COPPA, including Disney Princess Palace Pets.

"Most consumers, including parents, do not know that apps created for children are engineered to surreptitiously and unlawfully collect the child-users' personal information," the complaint says.

"Congress enacted the [COPPA] for very good reasons," said Michael W. Sobol, one of the attorneys who filed the lawsuit. "As a company long-engaged in the practice of engaging -- and profiting from -- children, Disney needs to make sure its games and apps comply with the law. They and the companies they work with always have to obtain verifiable parental consent before extracting kids' data from their mobile devices when kids play Disney's mobile apps."

The suit aims to stop the companies from collecting the data and sharing it without parental consent, as well as "appropriate relief, including actual and statutory damages and punitive damages."

"Disney has a robust COPPA compliance program, and we maintain strict data collection and use policies for Disney apps created for children and families," Disney said in a statement. "The complaint is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of COPPA principles, and we look forward to defending this action in court."

Disney has been accused of collecting personal information about children before. In 2011, the Federal Trade Commission fined the company $3 million for illegally collecting and disclosing personal information about "hundreds of thousands of children under age 13 without their parents' prior consent."

Mike PalmerComment