FTC Warns Children's App Maker BabyBus About Potential COPPA Rule Violations

FTC Warns Children's App Maker BabyBus About Potential COPPA Rule Violations
Image: Pixabay
December 29, 2014

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sent a letter to a China-based developer of mobile applications directed to children, warning the company that it may be in violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule.

In the letter, the FTC says that it appears the child-directed applications marketed by the company, BabyBus, appear to collect precise geolocation information about users. According to the FTC, the company does not get parents' consent before collecting children's personal information, which would appear to violate the COPPA Rule.

The letter notes that the applications, available from the Apple App Store, Amazon App Store and Google Play, have been downloaded millions of times. The apps are clearly directed to children from ages one to six, including apps that teach letters, numbers and shapes. The letter was also sent to the three application marketplaces.

The COPPA Rule requires companies collecting personal information from children under 13 to post clear privacy policies and to notify parents and get their consent before collecting or sharing any information from a child. The rule was revised in 2013 to adapt to the growth of mobile technology aimed at children.

The FTC's letter asks the company to evaluate its apps and determine whether they may be in violation. The Commission will review the apps again in the next month to ensure they are in compliance with the rule.

In a statement posted on its website, BabyBus says that "right after receiving the letter from FTC we started updating the app to make sure compliance. We would confirm to either FTC or our users in the states that we will be obliged to comply with related local laws, especially the Child Online Protection Act."