- A class-action lawsuit against Disney by a group of parents around privacy violations involving children was expanded to include defendants comScore and Twitter's MoPub, among others, according to MediaPost.
- The amended complaint, originally filed in August 2017, says that Disney allowed Twitter, comScore, Upsight, Unity Technologies and Kochava to embed code that tracked young children who used Disney apps such as "Where's My Water?" and "Princess Palace Pets."
- The parents say that the data collected from children includes identifiers like Apple's "ID for Advertisers" and Android's "Advertising ID," along with information that can be combined with other data to "fingerprint" smartphones, like the brand, operating system, network carriers and the name users assign to a device. The complaint says the company violated privacy laws in California, New York and Massachusetts, along with the federal Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
Data privacy has become a hot topic this year with Facebook facing a major scandal over its past data-sharing practices with thousands of apps, including some that political campaigns aimed to use to influence voters. Meanwhile, the European Union last month began enforcing its strict General Data Privacy Regulation that limits the ways companies can share data about the region's citizens without their informed consent.
In the U.S., COPPA prohibits web companies from collecting personal data from children under 13 without their parents' consent. The Federal Trade Commission, which enforces the law, has said that persistent cookies and device identifiers are within COPPA's definition of personal data. While the law doesn't let individuals sue for damages, the parents argue that COPPA supports their claim that Disney and other named companies engaged in "highly offensive" data collection, violating various state privacy standards, per MediaPost.
Disney said it has a "robust COPPA compliance program" and that it maintains "strict data collection and use policies for Disney apps created for children and families." The company said in a statement that "the complaint is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of COPPA principles, and we look forward to defending this action in court."
Disney, Twitter and comScore aren't the only companies to face criticism on child privacy issues. Mattel last year canceled plans to sell a voice-activated device for children after pressure from parent and privacy groups. The company's Aristotle gadget, which was described as a kid version of Amazon Alexa, had been touted as a baby monitor and voice-controlled computer that could be harmful and invasive to children's lives.