Disney Uses App To Illegally Spy On Children, Lawsuit Alleges

Children across the country were having their data collected and then sold to third party companies via Disney apps, a class-action lawsuit now alleges.

children sitting and looking at phone in front of Samsung poster

Believe it or not, even the privacy of our children is under attack nowadays.

The Walt Disney Co. is being sued after customers alleged their children were being spied on through Disney apps, and that the data collected was being sold to third parties illegally.

This is problematic because information being collectedfrom innocent children was being stored and used by Disney, regardless of whether their parents consented or not. This, the federal lawsuit alleges, is clearly a violation of privacy laws.

Apps implicated in the suit include “Disney Princess Palace Pets,” “Where's My Water? 2,” “AvengersNet,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and others that use tracking software that could “exfiltrate that information off the smart device for advertising and other commercial purposes,” the suit alleges.

According to Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, Disney has been making use of “heavy-duty technologies” along with companies that work only with systems designed to track individuals, collect their data, and monetize their personal information. Therefore, Chester added, Disney should not be exposing children to this risk.

The organization is considered a leader in consumer protection and privacy.

While the suit was filed on behalf of Amanda Rushing and her child, "L.L.," the complaint achieved a class-action status and is now representing customers in 35 states.

The suit names Disney and software companies Upsight, Unity, and Kochava as defendants. According to the complaint's documents, the companies have been acting in breach of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which states that children's privacy online is protected. Seeking an injunction that would bar the companies from having the data collected and disclosed without seeking the parents' consent, the suit also seeks punitive damages and coverage for all legal fees.

Disney said it isn't guilty of any wrongdoing. Instead, it states that the complaint “is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of COPPA principles.”

Unfortunately for kids — and their concerned parents — Disney apps are widely popular. As a result, millions of users, most of them kids, have downloaded these apps to their phones over the past years, giving Disney and the software companies behind these technologies access to a great deal of data globally.

This shameless act of putting profits before safety should not be tolerated.

Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters/Benoit Tessier

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