May 19, 2020

Online game developer settles allegations of COPPA safe harbor program violations

Miniclip, S.A., an online mobile digital game developer based in Switzerland, has settled allegations by the US Federal Trade Commission that the company made false statements regarding its membership in the Children’s Advertising Review Unit’s safe harbor program under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”). 

The Children’s Advertising Review Unit, or “CARU,” was approved by the FTC in 2001 as a safe harbor program for COPPA compliance (i.e., operators who comply with an FTC-approved safe harbor program like CARU’s are deemed to be in compliance with COPPA).  As indicated in the complaint, Miniclip joined CARU’s safe harbor program in 2009, and from 2012 to 2019 disseminated a statement on its website and online for a to the effect that it had been “accepted to join in the CARU Kids Privacy Safe Harbor Program and have been certified as COPPA compliant.”  However, Miniclip’s membership in CARU’s safe harbor program was terminated in July 2016, according to the FTC, rendering false its statements as to COPPA safe harbor certification after that time.

Pursuant to the settlement, Miniclip is prohibited from making misrepresentations about its participation in or certification by any privacy or security program sponsored by a government or self-regulatory body.  The settlement also requires the company to notify all principals, officers, directors, managers, employees, agents and representatives of the consent order for the next five years, to maintain business and compliance records, and to produce such records to the FTC when requested.  The consent agreement will become final upon decision by the FTC following a 30-day public comment period.

FTC press release | Complaint | Decision and Order