FTC Warns Children’s App Maker BabyBus About Potential COPPA Violations

Letter Notes Company’s Apps Appear to Collect Children’s Location Info

For Release

The staff of the Federal Trade Commission sent a letter to a China-based developer of mobile applications directed to children, warning that the company may be in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule.

In the letter, the FTC notes that it appears the child-directed applications marketed by the company, BabyBus, appear to collect precise geolocation information about users. The letter notes that the company does not get parents’ consent before collecting children’s personal information, which would appear to violate the COPPA Rule.

The letter notes that the applications, available on the Apple App Store, Amazon App Store and Google Play, have been downloaded millions of times. The apps are clearly directed to children from ages one to six, including apps that teach letters, numbers and shapes. The letter was also sent to the three application marketplaces.

The COPPA Rule requires companies collecting personal information from children under 13 to post clear privacy policies and to notify parents and get their consent before collecting or sharing any information from a child. The rule was revised in 2013  to adapt to the growth of mobile technology aimed at children.

The letter asks the company to evaluate its apps and determine whether they may be in violation, as well as informing the company that the Commission will review the apps again in the next month to ensure they are in compliance with the rule.

The Commission vote to authorize public release of the letter was 5-0.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

Contact Information

Jay Mayfield
Office of Public Affairs

Jamie Hine
Bureau of Consumer Protection

Mark Eichorn
Bureau of Consumer Protection