SF Mom Sues Disney for Snooping on Children

Disney and Viacom apps are illegally collecting personal information on children, says one San Francisco mom who’s taking those corporations to court.

You may think you have a “cool mom,” but you don’t have a mom so cool that she’s hauling the Walt Disney Company and cable TV conglomerate Viacom to court in order to safeguard your privacy. But that’s exactly what one San Francisco mother is doing. In a class action lawsuit filed last week against Disney, the concerned parent claims that a Disney app called Princess Palace Pets violates children’s privacy by illegally monitoring kids’ behavior and selling it to advertisers.

She wasn’t done there. According to the Hollywood Reporter the exact same mom filed pretty much the exact same lawsuit Monday against Viacom for similar illegal data tracking in its apps SpongeBob Bubble Party, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Portal Power, and Llama Spit Spit.

“Most consumers, including parents of children consumers, do not know that apps created for children are engineered to surreptitiously and unlawfully collect the child-users’ personal information, and then exfiltrate that information off the smart device for advertising and other commercial purposes,” both lawsuits allege.

Sure, pretty much every app collects your personal data — but in the case of children under 13, collection and tracking of personal data can be illegal.  According to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), app developers and advertisers cannot collect personal data on kids under 13 without getting consent from the children’s parents.   

The Washington Post has a complete list of all 42 Disney apps alleged to be illegally collecting kids’ data.

Disney has responded to the lawsuit with a statement to the Los Angeles Business Journal. “Disney has a robust COPPA compliance program, and we maintain strict data collection and use policies for Disney apps created for children and families,” the company claims. “The complaint is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of COPPA principles, and we look forward to defending this action in court.”


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