AUSTIN – The Texas attorney general’s office has settled with a California app developer by having them agree to not collect and save personal information of children under 13 when they download its app.
Attorney General Ken Paxton filed the suit with app producer Juxta Labs Inc. for violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act. Juxta Labs settled with the attorney general’s office by signing an assurance of voluntary compliance (AVC) that has it agreeing to stop collecting and saving personal data from children under 13 and deleting all information it has on children of this age range in its possession.
“This assurance of voluntary compliance is a settlement agreement between the state and Juxta Labs to resolve the state's investigation into Juxta Labs' apps collecting personal information from children under the age of 13,” Kayleigh Lovvorn, a spokeswoman for the Office of the Attorney General told the Southeastern Texas Record. “Under the terms of the settlement, Juxta Labs may not collect personal information from children under 13 unless their apps comply with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), and also must make certain alterations to their apps and website to come into compliance. In addition, Juxta Labs must delete personal information previously obtained from children under 13, and pay the state $30,000.”
Juxta Labs develops and produces mobile apps for games and social media. Children were able to easily access these games previously and some of the apps were for free games that generate revenue through advertising and in-app purchases.
The concern over Juxta Labs offering the games to young children and collecting their personal information in the process was over the transmission of this sensitive data through the app that would provide GPS coordinates of the child as well as their Internet protocol address. This could allow the child to be located by anyone and could allegedly put them in danger.
“Personal information transmitted over some of Juxta Labs' apps, including Internet protocol addresses and GPS coordinates, could be used to pinpoint a child's location,” Lovvorn said. “Furthermore, certain collection of unauthorized or unnecessary personal information from children under 13 over the Internet, including on websites and apps, is illegal under the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.”
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) prohibits the collection of personal information on children under 13 unless a parent’s consent is given, whereby they can forbid any future use or maintenance of the information at any time.