On Tuesday the state of New Mexico filed a lawsuit against Google, Twitter, and several other companies that create mobile gaming apps targeted at kids. The state is now saying that many of these apps illegally collect data on children that could put their safety and privacy at risk.
Just last week, Google faced major backlash when it was determined that certain websites and apps associated with the company were keeping tabs on user location even when the setting that feeds them your location was shut off. For New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, this poses a danger to kids who could have their school, home, and physical location disclosed by anyone within the company.
“These multi-million-dollar tech companies partnering with app developers are taking advantage of New Mexican children, and the unacceptable risk of data breach and access from third parties who seek to exploit and harm our children will not be tolerated in New Mexico,” he said according to an ABC News report.
More specifically, the lawsuit is aimed at these companies because in Balderas’ estimation, they’ve violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). This is a huge deal, not just because COPPA is a federal mandate, but because it specifically forces websites and apps to disclose what information they mine from children and how they use it. Beyond that it mandates that they share that information with parents and seek consent, something Balderas doesn’t think is happening. Tiny Lab, one of Twitter’s former game app partners has been named in the suit as well.
Google is insisting that all of their family-oriented apps follow the law regarding data collection even though, per the same ABC News report, they were told earlier this year that some of their apps violated privacy laws. Now, the company is saying that none of the apps were made specifically for kids, and thus, they haven’t violated any laws. New Mexico isn’t buying it though and is seeking a court mandate that will force companies like Google to totally comply with the law moving forward.