Yelp to pay $450,000 penalty for COPPA violation

Posted by fgilbert on September 17th, 2014

The Federal Trade Commission has announced a proposed settlement with Yelp, Inc. for COPPA violations. The FTC alleged that, for five years, Yelp illegally collected and used the personal information of children under 13 who registered on its mobile app service.

According to the FTC complaint, Yelp collected personal information from children through the Yelp app without first notifying parents and obtaining their consent. The Yelp app registration process required individuals to provide their date of birth. Several thousand registrants provided a date of birth showing they were under 13 years old. Even though it had knowledge that these registrants were children, Yelp did not follow the requirements of the COPPA Rule and collected their personal information without proper notice to, and consent from, their parents. Information collected included name, e-mail address, geolocation, and any other any information that these children posted on Yelp. In addition, the complaint alleges that Yelp did not adequately test its app to ensure that users under 13 were prohibited from registering.

Under the terms of the proposed settlement agreement, among other things, Yelp must:

  • pay a $450,000 civil penalty;
  • delete information it collected from individuals who stated they were 13 or younger at the time they registered for the service; and
  • submit a compliance report to the FTC in one year outlining its COPPA compliance program.

In a separate action, FTC alleged that TinyCo also improperly collected Children information in violation of COPPA. Under the settlement agreement between TinyCo and the FTC, TinyCo will pay a $300,000 civil penalty.

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