Yelp is, once again, in some legal trouble. This time it is for collecting personal data from minors under the age of 13. This data was collected in a way that violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
The COPPA requires that companies get parental consent if they want to collect personal information, such as a first and last name, home address, email address, phone number, social security number, or any other information that the FTC determines to be personally identifiable, or allowing the company to contact the child.
In the accusation, the FTC stated that from 2009 to 2013 Yelp was collecting registration and other personal information from children under the age of 13 without getting parental consent. The information Yelp is accused of collecting includes their birth date, so it is difficult for them to argue that they didn’t know that these people were under aged.
In a statement, the FTC said “Yelp failed to implement a functional age-screen in its apps, thereby allowing children under 13 to register for the service, despite having an age-screen mechanism on its website. In addition, the complaint alleges that Yelp did not adequately test its apps to ensure that users under the age of 13 were prohibited from registering.”
According to the settlement, Yelp will have to pay $450k for this violation.
Yelp has also released a response on their website, HERE, indicating that “only about .02% of users who actually completed Yelp’s registration process during this time period provided an underage birth date, and we have good reason to believe that many of them were actually adults.”