The recent class-action lawsuits filed against Disney, Viacom and Kiloo have put the kids’ media industry on alert. Here’s everything you need to know:
1) Adtech companies are now fully on the radar: These lawsuits claim alleged COPPA breaches and for the first time both the kids’ publishers and their technology partners and ad networks are being sued. For those new to the game, under COPPA, advertising technology partners are also liable if they know that the data they’re collecting is from kids. As a result, co-defendants named in the suit include Upsight, Kochava, Tapjoy, Ironsource, AdColony, InMobi and Vungle among others.
2) Perception = Reality: Disney, Viacom and Kiloo are highly conscientious kids’ brands who take kids’ digital safety very seriously and know how to comply with COPPA. However, these lawsuits are now basically declaring that any collection of kids’ personal data is sufficient to give the impression of a breach, even if that collection is in fact permitted under COPPA.
3) The onus is on you! The lawsuits claim the SDK partners or ad networks knew, or should have known, that the apps in question were kids’ apps and if they did know, then they must not use any data collected for behavioural tracking or user profiling. The lawsuits imply that these partners likely breached COPPA because profiling and targeting is their core business. Therefore the onus is now on publishers and their ad networks to prove that they did not.
4) The “zero data” Internet for kids is here: These lawsuits represent an important shift in thinking about kids and online data privacy. Even though COPPA and GDPR exist for precisely this reason, it shows that people feel that there should be even more protection for kids online. Simply being in technical compliance with COPPA is no longer enough – you have to not collect data in the first place. That means using advertising technology that is compliant by design, not compliant through configuration.
5) Be prepared: With GDPR now law in Europe (whose Article 8 essentially replicates COPPA) and the increasing sentiment about kids’ digital safety and data privacy, it’s highly likely that more legal actions will follow. The willingness of the US class-action suit to go after a privately-held games publisher should appropriately frighten a lot of others. Advertisers and agencies need to have a coherent, technically (and legally) sound kids’ digital strategy.
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