Disney is being dragged to court over some suspicious activity involved in their apps, it is believed that over forty apps from the company have been stealing sensitive from children who play them. Such information is then, allegedly, sold to third-party companies under the table. These are advertising agencies we're talking about here, looking to target their adverts to specific locations and demographics. Stolen information includes, but is not limited to: location, internet browsing history, and email addresses. This lawsuit comes from a California resident, and it remarks on the vulnerability of children to online tracking and other suspicious tracking. It also states, "…Disney never obtained verifiable parental consent to collect, use, or disclose her children's information." So, it seems like Disney overstepped some boundaries. This violates the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, a law set into motion in 1998, which is designed to protect children under the age of thirteen. Any service or website that is targeted towards children under thirteen has strict rules to follow, and it seems like Disney's apps are targeted towards kids in this age group.
Disney has responded to this claim a few days ago via the Washington Post, stating that is has a robust COPPA compliance policy. The statement reads, "The complaint is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of COPPA principles…" Saying that the lawsuit is based on a misunderstanding on COPPA policies, that means that Disney may possibly have a counter argument. Disney will hash it out in the courtroom eventually, and when that happens, the public will know if Disney is wrong or not. The company has actually been hit with lawsuits of this nature before, one of which occurred in 2011. A company called Playcom, which Disney's subsidiary, had gotten into hot water over the COPPA policy. The company had registered over a million users for their online games without their knowing. Disney collected information such as their email addresses and age, such actions cost the company $3 million dollars.
So far, the most popular app that is thought to be gathering information is "Where's My Water 2." It has upwards of 500 million downloads on the Google Play Store, and enjoys high marks on the Apple Store. Other games include "Cars Lightening League" and "Frozen Free Fall". These are all games from high selling movies, which are sure to get high download rates. If Disney can't fend off these claims in the courtroom, it could put a damper on the company's credibility. The company is also working on starting up its own streaming service it seems, and this lawsuit could affect Disney's plans in one way or another.