Four Major Toy Companies Fined for Violating the COPPA

In light of a four-year investigation, four major toy companies have all agreed to stop letting online marketers track children’s internet habits.

Eric Schneiderman, New York Attorney General, found Hasbro, Mattel, Viacom, and JumpStart Games to be in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.  In its four years, Operation Child Tracker uncovered that third-party vendors were using cookies and IP addresses to track kids under 13 years old. This act was giving access to some of their personal information without getting the parents’ approval first.

Nickelodeon, American Girl, Neopets, and My Little Pony, were only some of the names listed to be in violation.

“Federal law demands that children are off-limits to the prying eyes of advertisers,” Schneiderman stated.

In total, the companies have to pay an $835,000 fine; as well as agree to change its systems to protect the information of child users from being tracked. The four also agreed to take measures to prevent online marketers from tracking them. Included are scans to monitor for these third-party trackers, and informing third-parties that they comply with the COPPA.

“We have cooperated fully with the New York Attorney General’s office on the investigation and welcomed the opportunity to bolster our privacy practices in connection with today’s settlement. Moving forward, we will be more closely vetting and monitoring companies that work on our behalf,” a Hasbro spokesperson said.

“Mattel takes online privacy and security very seriously, and we care very much about the privacy of those who use our websites. Anytime we become aware of a question about whether a Mattel-operated website is in full compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or other laws, we take prompt action to investigate and, if necessary, remedy the situation and look for additional controls to avoid a reoccurrence of the issue,” a spokesperson for Mattel said.

“Viacom takes very seriously its longstanding commitment to protecting children’s privacy, and we work hard in today’s fast-changing digital landscape to insure our COPPA compliance,” a Viacom spokesperson commented for the company.

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