Disney-owned social game developer Playdom has settled for $3 million with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) following accusations of improper collection and distribution of children's personal information.
The titles which breached the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) – and, indeed, Playdom's own internal policies – were operated by Acclaim, a company Playdom itself acquired last year. The FTC's case focuses on the period between 2006 and 2010 during which time the games in question collected childrens ages and email addresses while also allowing them to posted online without parental consent.
In addition to $3 million fine, the settlement also states that Playdom is now permanently barred from violating COPPA rules and "from misrepresenting their information practices regarding children".
"Let's be clear: Whether you are a virtual world, a social network, or any other interactive site that appeals to kids, you owe it to parents and their children to provide proper notice and get proper consent," said FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz. "It's the law, it's the right thing to do, and, as today's settlement demonstrates, violating COPPA will not come cheap."
According to the FTC, around 403,000 children registered on Playdom's general audience sites during the period, with an additional 821,000 signing up for child-orientated Pony Stars, a pony breeding MMOG.
All of Acclaim's Facebook titles – bar RockFree – have now been closed down.