The New York Attorney General has recently concluded its COPPA compliance investigation, “Operation Child Tracker”, and has announced that his office has reached settlements with four wellknown companies – Viacom, Mattel, Hasbro, and JumpStart – obligating them to pay a total of $835,000 in fines for several violations of the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act ("COPPA").
The Attorney General’s investigation found that websites for Transformers, Barbie, and other popular kids' brands owned by the four companies, were tracking the online activity and collecting personal information of children under the age of 13 to serve ads, although this is prohibited under COPPA.
As part of the settlement agreements, each company has agreed to withdraw third-party trackers, as well as perform regular scans and vetting of vendors to ensure they will be compliant with COPPA in the future, and provide regular reports of such scans. In addition, the settlement agreements require Viacom to pay $500,000, Mattel to pay $250,000 and Jumpstart to pay $85,000. Hasbro was not fined since it was enrolled in a Federal Trade Commission's approved online privacy program 'COPPA Safe Harbor', which usually confirms that a site operator is compliant with COPPA.