Weight Management Companies Settle Data Privacy Suit

Two American weight management companies have agreed to pay $1.5m to resolve allegations concerning the illegal harvesting of children’s sensitive data. 

In a complaint filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, Kurbo Inc. and its parent company WW International Inc. (formerly Weight Watchers International Inc.) were accused of collecting children’s personal information without informing the children’s parents.

Under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA Rule), websites, apps, and online services that are child-directed or knowingly collect personal information from children must notify parents and get their consent before collecting, using or disclosing the personal information of children younger than 13.

“Parents have a right to know and consent before companies collect their children’s personal information,” said principal deputy assistant attorney general Brian Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The department is committed to enforcing the protections against unauthorized collection of information from consumers, particularly children.” 

The allegations made by the US government concern the Kurbo by WW mobile application and website designed by the companies and marketed at children as young as eight years of age. 

It is alleged that the companies knew that the app and website gathered personal data from children, including their names, telephone numbers, email addresses, height, weight, food intake, physical activity, and identifiers used to track their devices, but didn’t tell the children’s parents about the data collection or obtain their consent for it. 

It was further alleged that WW and Kurbo violated the COPPA Rule by retaining children’s personal information indefinitely and only deleting it when requested by a parent.

In a settlement reached with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Kurbo and WW International agreed to delete personal information illegally collected from children under 13, destroy any algorithms derived from the data and pay a $1.5m penalty. Read more:https://bit.ly/3pMIPES

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