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Swiss Digital Game Developer Settles FTC Allegations that it Falsely Claimed it was a Member of COPPA Safe Harbor Program

A digital game maker has settled Federal Trade Commission allegations that it misled consumers about its membership in a program aimed at ensuring companies adhere to requirements of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

In a complaint, the FTC alleges that Miniclip, S.A., a Swiss-based company that makes mobile and online digital games, falsely claimed it was a current member of the Children’s Advertising Review Unit’s (CARU) COPPA safe harbor program. Under the FTC’s COPPA Rule, companies are deemed in compliance with COPPA if they are a member and adhere to the guidelines of an FTC-approved COPPA safe harbor program, such as the Better Business Bureau’s CARU program.

The COPPA Rule requires companies that collect personal information about children under 13 to provide parents with notice of their collection practices and obtain verifiable parental consent.

“Consumers rely on companies to tell them the truth, especially when it comes to how they treat personal information about children,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “When companies like Miniclip promise consumers that they are an approved participant of a safe harbor program even after they’re removed, the FTC will take action.”

Miniclip joined CARU’s safe harbor program in 2009 and remained a member until 2015, when CARU terminated Miniclip’s participation in the program. From 2015 through mid-2019, Miniclip falsely claimed on its website and on its Facebook games privacy policy page that it was a member of CARU’s safe harbor program, according to the FTC complaint.

As part of the proposed settlement Miniclip is prohibited from misrepresenting its participation or certification in any privacy or security program sponsored by a government or any self-regulatory organization, including the CARU COPPA safe harbor program. Miniclip is also subject to compliance and recordkeeping requirements.

The Commission voted 5-0 to issue the proposed administrative complaint and to accept the consent agreement with Miniclip. Commissioner Rohit Chopra issued a concurring statement. The FTC will publish a description of the consent agreement package in the Federal Register soon. The agreement will be subject to public comment for 30 days after publication in the Federal Register after which the Commission will decide whether to make the proposed consent order final. Instructions for filing comments will appear in the published notice. Once processed, comments will be posted on Regulations.gov.

NOTE: The Commission issues an administrative complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $43,280.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

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