These 42 Disney apps are spying on your kids, lawsuit claims
Disney secretly collects personal information on some of their youngest customers and shares that data illegally with advertisers without parental consent, according to a federal lawsuit filed in California.
The suit targets Disney and three other software companies - Upsight, Unity and Kochava - alleging that the mobile apps they built together violate the law by gathering insights about app users across the internet, including those under the age of 13, in ways that facilitate "commercial exploitation"."
The plaintiffs argue that Disney and its partners violated COPPA, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, a federal law designed to protect the privacy of children on the web.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction barring the companies from collecting and disclosing the data without parental consent, as well as punitive damages and legal fees.
The lawsuit alleges that Disney allowed the software companies to embed trackers in apps such as "Disney Princess Palace Pets" and "Where's My Water? 2".
Once installed, tracking software can then "exfiltrate that information off the smart device for advertising and other commercial purposes", according to the suit.
Disney should not be using those software development companies, said Jeffrey Chester, the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy.
"These are heavy-duty technologies, industrial-strength data and analytic companies whose role is to track and monetise individuals," Chester said. "These should not be in little children's apps."
Disney said the lawsuit is misguided and intends to defend it in court.
"The complaint is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of COPPA principles, and we look forward to defending this action in Court."
This is not the first time Disney has faced litigation over alleged COPPA violations. In 2011, the FTC penalised a company subsidiary, Playdom, US$3 million after Playdom was found to have registered about 1.2 million users, most of them children, for online games.
The full list of affected apps named in the complaint includes:
Beauty and the Beast
Cars Lightening League
Club Penguin Island
Color by Disney
Disney Color and Play
Disney Crossy Road
Disney Dream Treats
Disney Emoji Blitz
Disney Jigsaw Puzzle!
Disney Princess: Story Theater
Disney Store Become
Disney Story Central
Disney's Magic Timer by Oral-B
Disney Princess: Charmed Adventures
Disney Build It Frozen
Frozen Free Fall
Frozen Free Fall: Icy Shot
Good Dinosaur Storybook Deluxe
Inside Out Thought Bubbles
Maleficent Free Fall
Miles from Tomorrowland: Missions
Moana Island Life
Palace Pets in Whisker Haven
Sofia the First Color and Play
Sofia the First Secret Library
Star Wars: Puzzle Droids
Star Wars: Commander
Temple Run: Oz
Temple Run: Brave
The Lion Guard
Toy Story: Story Theater
Where's My Water?
Where's My Mickey?
Where's My Water? 2
Where's My Water? Lite/Where's My Water? Free
Zootopia Crime Files: Hidden Object
- The Washington Post