A class action suit has been brought against Disney after a mom claimed the company's apps were unlawfully collecting data from their users.

By Zara Husaini Hanawalt
August 08, 2017
Disney App spying
Credit: GOLFX/Shutterstock

If you're a parent, chances are you have some qualms when it comes to letting your kids use technology. After all, we've seen plenty of evidence of the dangers that come with being too plugged in—and now, there may be another one for you to add to that list.

According to legal news service Top Class Actions, Amanda Rushing believes her child was the victim of unlawful data collection while playing with Disney Princess Palace Pets, which is one of Disney's gaming apps. Rushing, who has a child under the age of 13, has decided to take action: The mother has filed a privacy class action lawsuit against the Walt Disney Company, Disney Enterprises Inc., and Disney Electronic Content Inc. According to The Disney Gaming Apps Data Collection Class Action Lawsuit, Disney knowingly allowed advertising software companies to implement technologies that collect personal information and data linked to the user's device.

Rushing is fighting to prove that the defendants violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), a federal ruling that places requirements on operators of online services made for children under age 13. According to COPPA, the people behind children's apps can't collect any data without parental consent.

Rushing filed the complaint on August 3, and a judge has been assigned to the case since. Disney's web site has a section on its children's privacy policy listed on its web site, and the position taken there doesn't quite line up with the allegations. "This Children’s Online Privacy Policy explains our information collection, disclosure, and parental consent practices with respect to information provided by children under the age of 13 (“child” or “children”), and uses terms that are defined in our general Privacy Policy. This policy is in accordance with the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”), and outlines our practices in the United States and Latin America regarding children’s personal information," the site states.

A comment from the company maintains this as well. “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 complaint is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of COPPA principles, and we look forward to defending this action in Court," Disney told Parents in an emailed statement.

While we'll have to wait and see how this case unfolds, privacy is a hugely important issue parents face where allowing their children to use gadgets is concerned. If nothing else, maybe this will serve as a reminder that you can never be too careful about what your kids are exposed to—and how much those tools know about your kids.