To resolve allegations of Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) violations, a Chinese software and consumer electronics company agreed to pay the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office $100,000 and change its business practices.

AG Gurbir S. Grewal charged Meitu, Inc., and its United States subsidiary with failing to notify parents and obtain consent before collecting personal information from children under the age of 13 as required by COPPA. The company also failed to maintain any privacy policy for its apps prior to August 2016 and, before February 2017, did not clearly and conspicuously post its privacy policy on its websites, the AG said.

The company offered more than a dozen child-directed apps including “Beauty Plus,” “AirBrush,” and “SelfieCity,” some of which featured photo editing that allowed users to “beautify their selfies” or turn them into cartoon characters.

To settle the charges (which also included violations of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act), Meitu agreed to change its policies and procedures to ensure compliance with COPPA. Among other things, the company promised to provide notice of the information it collects from children and obtain verifiable parental consent prior to the collection, use or disclosure of a child’s personal information.

The company will also clearly and conspicuously post its privacy policy, refrain from engaging in any unfair or deceptive acts or practices, and pay a $100,000 civil penalty to the AG’s Office.

To read the consent order in In the Matter of Meitu, Inc., click here.

Why it matters: As evidenced by the New Jersey AG’s action, state regulators are taking an active role in policing advertisers to protect privacy. “This settlement sends a clear message that we will not allow app developers to skirt the laws designed to protect the privacy of children online,” Kevin Jespersen, acting director of the Division of Consumer Affairs for the New Jersey AG’s Office, said in a statement. “As a result of our investigation, Meitu has agreed to come into compliance with privacy law, and we hope and expect that any other app companies unlawfully collecting or sharing users’ information will follow suit.”