FTC Continues Focus on Children’s Privacy

The FTC just lately took two well-publicized steps within the youngsters’s privateness area. First, it penalized WW Worldwide (previously, Weight Watchers) and its subsidiary, Kurbo, for alleged COPPA violations. Second, it unanimously voted to undertake a brand new coverage assertion on training expertise and COPPA. These actions comply with its March COPPA settlement with TickTalk Tech.


Kurbo is a wellness app marketed to youngsters as younger as eight. In response to the FTC, the registration course of contained a non-neutral age gate: youngsters who self-identified as underneath 13 have been prompted to register by a father or mother portal. These over 13 might register on their very own. The FTC discovered that whereas the age gate was theoretically meant to display screen customers underneath 13, it lead youngsters in direction of the 13+ choice: an choice that allowed them to efficiently register and provides Kurbo private data with out parental consent. Furthermore, youngsters who initially entered false delivery dates to entry the app have been later in a position to appropriate their delivery dates.

Tons of of customers revised their ages after signing up, placing Kurbo on discover that they have been underneath 13. Kurbo deactivated these accounts solely after receiving discover from the FTC in late 2021. At the moment, Kurbo offered discover to oldsters about its data assortment practices. It didn’t try to get parental consent or affirmation, nonetheless. The discover additionally didn’t inform mother and father that persistent identifiers have been collected by the web site and app. Additionally of concern for the FTC, till late 2021 Kurbo saved person data indefinitely, in violation of the COPPA (which permits data retention solely for so long as wanted for the collected objective).

Kurbo has agreed to pay $1.5 million and delete private data that was improperly collected from youngsters. As a part of the settlement, Kurbo additionally agreed to destroy any fashions or algorithms developed in entire or partly utilizing private data collected by the app. It is a distinctive penalty that the FTC had not imposed earlier than.


This motion in opposition to Kurbo is probably going not the final COPPA case we are going to see in 2022. The FTC just lately indicated that it’s going to “crack down on” EdTech firms that improperly surveil college students whereas they use EdTech instruments for studying. This warning accompanied the FTC’s EdTech policy statement. In that assertion, the FTC reminded firms of a number of essential components of COPPA.

These components embrace not conditioning a toddler’s participation in an exercise on offering extra data than essential. (This restriction is much like the EDPB’s current “dark patterns” warning.) It additionally consists of securing data and never retaining data longer than essential. Lastly, the FTC additionally reminded firms who present EdTech instruments underneath college authorizations that they’ll accumulate and use data just for the requested on-line training service. They can not use the knowledge for unrelated industrial functions like advertising and marketing and promoting.

Placing it Into Follow: In mild of the current EdTech warning, and the settlements with Kurbo and TickTalk, we anticipate extra COPPA selections from the FTC within the coming months. Firms ought to take into accout cautions about information limitation, and take into accout settlement phrases that embrace destroying data – and the analytics derived therefrom. 

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