Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, must pay $520 million over children’s privacy

The Federal Trade Commission announced the $520 million settlement on Monday Epic gamesThe developer of popular video games such as Fortnite and Fall Guys, the company illegally collected information from children and, individually, tricked millions of players into making accidental purchases.

The agreement includes fines filed in two separate cases.

Epic has agreed to pay $275 million to settle allegations by regulators that it violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, a federal law, by collecting personal information from children under 13 who played Fortnite without verifiable parental consent. The company made parents “jump through hoops” to delete their children’s data and sometimes failed to honor parents’ deletion requests, the company said in a legal complaint filed Monday.

The amount dwarfs the $170 million fine — the previous record for children’s privacy violations — that it incurred Google agreed to pay In 2019 YouTube was accused of illegally collecting data from children and using it to target them with advertisements.

As part of the proposed solution, Epic would have to adopt high-privacy default settings for children and teens. That means the company should disable settings that enabled live text and voice chats for younger users.

Epic has agreed to pay $245 million in restitution to consumers over allegations it used deceptive online practices known as “dark patterns” to trick people of all ages into making unintended purchases. Among other things, Fortnite’s user interface had a “negative, inconsistent and confusing” layout that led users to charge by pressing a button, regulators said in a separate complaint.

The complaint states that players may be charged when trying to launch the game from sleep mode or when the game loads a screen. Children collect unauthorized charges without their parents’ knowledge. These dark pattern techniques have led to hundreds of millions of unnecessary charges for users.

This is a growing story. Check back for updates.

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