The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) finalized a settlement today with video game maker Miniclip, S.A. over its allegedly misleading statements about membership in an online privacy program which ensures companies adhere to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Miniclip was accused of falsely claiming that it was a part of the Children’s Advertising Review Unit’s (CARU) “safe harbor program.”
Between 2015 and 2019, Miniclip allegedly claimed that it was a member of the program. In reality, its membership was valid from 2009 until 2015. According to the FTC, “companies are deemed in compliance with COPPA if they are a member and adhere to the guidelines of an FTC-approved COPPA safe harbor program.”
Founded in 2001, Swiss-based Miniclip is the largest privately-owned gaming website. As part of the new settlement, it must refrain from misleading consumers about its involvement in the CARU or “any privacy or security program sponsored by a government or any self-regulatory organization.” The FTC voted 5-0 to accept and finalize the proposed settlement requirements.
Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Investigation, Andrew Smith, explained the importance of transparency, especially in regards to online privacy. “Consumers rely on companies to tell them the truth, especially when it comes to how they treat personal information about children,” he said. “When companies like Miniclip promise consumers that they are an approved participant of a safe harbor program even after they’re removed, the FTC will take action.”