VTech Settles with the Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission recently settled charges with VTech, a company that sells electronic toys, over allegations that it violated a children’s privacy law. The FTC alleged that VTech’s Kid Connect app collected children’s personal information without providing parents sufficient or direct notice, obtaining appropriate parental consent, or taking reasonable steps to secure the data it collected.

Why is this important?

If you are a parent, chances are you’ve faced the dilemma of allowing your kids access to the latest tech while attempting to keep their privacy safe. Smart speakers, connected dolls, tablets and gaming systems were all popular gifts this holiday season that have the ability to collect a lot of personal and potentially-sensitive information.

Fortunately, those toys and apps targeted to children under 13 must take steps to obtain your consent and protect your child’s personal information. Specifically, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) requires companies that collect personal information from children under 13 to disclose its privacy practices to parents and obtain verifiable parental consent. COPPA also requires companies to take reasonable measures to secure the personal information they collect about children.

What can you do?

Look for a privacy policy before downloading an app or using a website that asks for your child’s personal information. If there isn’t one, don’t use it.

Even if there is a privacy policy, a website or app that targets children must get your approval to collect your child’s personal information. If you they are collecting your child’s information without your approval, report it. You can complain to your state attorney general’s office and the Federal Trade Commission.

Get in touch if you have questions about children’s privacy or would like to share your story.