Walt Disney is to pay $3 million after it collected data on more than a million children who signed up to online worlds operated by one of its subsidiaries.
The payment accepts that Playdom games broke laws designed to protect children's privacy online, although the violations stemmed from before Disney had bought the operation last year.
The payment settled charges from the Federal Trade Commission aimed at 20 services run by the company, although the the commission singled out the Pony Stars website for special attention.
According to the FTC, Pony Stars was a website specifically directed at children, while the company’s other websites were intended for a general audience but also attracted a significant number of children.
Between 2006 and 2010, approximately 403,000 children registered on Playdom's general audience sites, and 821,000 registered for Pony Stars.
The FTC complaint alleged Playdom collected children’s ages and email addresses during registration and then enabled children to publicly post their full names, email addresses, instant messenger IDs, and location – all without parental permission.
“Let’s be clear: whether you are a virtual world, a social network, or any other interactive site that appeals to kids, you owe it to parents and their children to provide proper notice and get proper consent,” said Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the FTC.
“It’s the law, it’s the right thing to do, and, as today’s settlement demonstrates, violating COPPA will not come cheap.”
This article originally appeared at pcpro.co.uk