Epic Games, at war with the App Store, fined $520M by FTC for violating children’s privacy

The US Federal Trade Commission just hit the App Store critics at Epic Games with the “largest penalty ever” for children’s privacy violations and targeting kids with unwanted charges. The makers of Fortnite settled with the FTC for over half a million dollars, according to the FTC statement.

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The massive penalty includes two “record-breaking settlements,” says the FTC.

Epic Games failed to protect children’s privacy and violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Children’s privacy violations include allowing children and teenagers to be matched with strangers across the internet using voice communication while playing Fortnite. The feature was enabled by default regardless of age.

“Children and teens have been bullied, threatened, harassed, and exposed to dangerous and psychologically traumatizing issues such as suicide while on Fortnite,” the FTC alleged. The company also collected children’s personal data without parental consent. That will cost Epic Games $275 million.

Fortnite also used dark patterns to trick players into making purchases, allowing children to make purchases without authorization, and locking accounts of players who disputed charges. Epic Games will have to pay back $245 million to consumers according to the FTC settlement.

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In 2014, Apple was forced by the FTC to refund $32.5 million to customers over similarly allowing App Store purchases without proper parental controls in place.

Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney has been a leading voice against Apple and how it operates its App Store on iPhone and iPad. The video game maker pulled Fortnite from the platform after not being allowed to sell in-game credit without paying Apple’s 30% cut on digital purchases.

Read the full Epic Games settlement report from the FTC here.

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