US tech firm fined for breaching children’s privacy law

California-based technology company Super Basic and its parent, Maple Media, have been ordered to pay $100,000 after an investigation by Washington state’s attorney general Bob Ferguson found the companies’ social media platform, ‘We Heart It’, broke the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

The platform allowed children to create accounts, collected their personal information and permitted third-party advertisers to collect data from them, all without legally required parental consent, Ferguson’s office said.

Under an enforceable consent decree, an additional $400,000 fine on the companies has been suspended provided they comply with the order, which includes obtaining verifiable parental consent before collecting personal information from children under the age of 13.

COPPA stipulates platforms directed toward children cannot collect personal information from them without first obtaining parental consent.

Ferguson’s office says as a result of its investigation, ‘We Heart It’ now requires users to confirm they are over 13 before creating an account. The platform has also changed the default profile and messaging settings to private and no longer maintains users’ geolocation data.

‘We Heart It’ has around 500,000 monthly active users in the US.

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