The Federal Trade Commission has moved to have three dating apps removed from Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store after allegations that the apps allowed children as young as 12 to gain access and reported to have violated multiple laws.
In a recent letter from the FTC, a warning to Wildec LLC, a Ukraine-based company that operates the apps Meet24, FastMeet and Meet4U, that the three apps appear to be in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the FTC Act. The apps have been removed until they rightfully address the violations.
Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA) requires companies that collect personal information from children under 13 to post clear privacy policies that notify parents and gain consent before collecting, using or sharing personal information from the child.
According to the FTC, the apps collect location data, email addresses, users’ birthdates and photographs. The apps also fail to block users under the age of 13 from using the app, even though they claim to prohibit underage users.
The agency says allowing underage users poses a safety risk and several adults have already faced criminal charges for contacting or attempting to contact children via the Wildec’s apps.
The agency’s letter detailed requirements that the company must comply with COPPA and the FTC Act which includes removing personal information from children on all three apps and to seek parental consent before allowing minors to access them.
The FTC has taken heat for not doing enough to uphold the laws for Big Tech, and is actually the subject of an oversight hearing this week in the House of Representatives.