Epic Games’ FTC settlements set new records for child privacy violations
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Epic Games’ FTC settlements set new records for child privacy violations

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently announced record-setting settlements with Epic Games, the maker of the popular video game Fortnite, for allegedly violating children’s privacy laws and using deceptive marketing practices. The settlements, which total $10 million, come as part of a broader crackdown by the FTC on companies that target children with misleading tactics and collect their personal information without consent.

The FTC alleged that Epic Games violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by collecting and sharing the personal information of young players without obtaining their parents’ consent. In addition to the massive fine, Epic Games has been ordered to implement a comprehensive data privacy program and submit regular compliance reports to the FTC.

This is not the first time that Epic Games has faced scrutiny over its handling of children’s personal information. In 2019, the company settled a lawsuit filed by the parents of underage Fortnite players who accused the company of using addictive game mechanics to exploit children and manipulate them into making in-game purchases.

The FTC’s action against Epic Games is part of a broader effort to hold companies accountable for their use of “digital dark patterns” – deceptive and manipulative tactics designed to trick users into taking actions they might not have intended. These dark patterns can include misleading marketing messages, confusing user interfaces, and coercive tactics aimed at getting users to share personal information or make purchases.

The FTC has made it clear that it will not tolerate companies that engage in these practices, particularly when it comes to targeting children. The record-setting settlements with Epic Games send a strong message to other companies that they will face significant consequences if they violate children’s privacy laws or engage in deceptive marketing practices.

In a statement announcing the settlements, FTC Chair Lina Khan emphasized the importance of protecting children from online exploitation. “The FTC is committed to holding companies accountable for their use of digital dark patterns, particularly when it comes to targeting children,” Khan said. “We will continue to take aggressive action to ensure that companies respect children’s privacy and do not engage in deceptive marketing practices.”

The settlements with Epic Games are a significant victory for children’s privacy advocates and a step in the right direction for ensuring that companies are held accountable for their actions. It is crucial that companies understand the serious consequences they will face if they engage in deceptive and manipulative tactics, especially when it comes to targeting children.

As the FTC continues to crack down on violations of kids’ privacy and the use of digital dark patterns, it is essential for companies to prioritize transparency, honesty, and ethical marketing practices. By doing so, they can not only avoid hefty fines and legal repercussions but also build trust with their customers and create a safer and more respectful online environment for children.