Yelp Inc. (“Yelp”) and TinyCo, Inc. (“TinyCo”) recently settled charges filed against them for alleged violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA) and the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) Act.  The FTC alleged that both companies failed to obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting, using or disclosing personal information about children under the age of thirteen.

The Alleged COPPA Violations

As we previously reported, the FTC amended COPPA in order to: (i) strengthen online privacy protection for children under 13 years of age; and (ii) ensure that parents are given an increased role in controlling their children’s online activities (including via mobile apps).

The FTC has been strictly scrutinizing mobile apps that target children or otherwise collect their personal information.  The FTC filed separate lawsuits against Yelp, a popular online review site, and TinyCo, a popular mobile game app developer, alleging that both companies improperly collected children’s personal information including, among other things, their email addresses, first and last names and geographical locations, without first obtaining verifiable parental consent.

The Yelp and TinyCo COPPA Settlements

Pursuant to the terms of the respective settlement agreements, Yelp and TinyCo must delete all information collected from users who indicated that they were under 13 years of age at the time of registration.  Yelp must pay a $450,000.00 civil penalty and TinyCo must pay a $300,000.00 civil penalty.  Both companies must strictly comply with the COPPA requirements in the future and submit compliance reports in one year outlining their respective compliance.