US based tech giants Apple and Google have removed three of the dating apps from their app stores after the US government has said that the apps can put the children vulnerable to the adult predators. A statement was released by the Federal Trade Commission on May 6, 2019 that the dating apps MEET24, FastMeet and Meet4U had violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The COPPA prevents the apps and websites from collecting personal information from children under 13 without parental consent.
The three apps that have been curtailed, are owned by the Ukraine-based company known as Wilde LLC. The FTC said that the company allowed minors 13 years old and younger to be contacted by the users and contradicted the privacy policies of the app that had claimed that they would follow the necessary laws including the COPPA. The FTC also informed that its staffers found users who were as young as 12 years on the app.
It was also found that the app had collected plenty of information about the users including their birthdays and location. The FTC argued that such apps could result in a substantial injury to the consumer. A letter by the FTC to the company said, “Several individuals have reportedly faced criminal charges for allegedly contacting or attempting to contact minors using Wildec’s apps”. The agency also said that Wildec was aware that the children under 13 were using all the three apps.
The FTC added that Google and Apple have removed the apps out of the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store respectively. Meanwhile the owners of Wildec did not immediately respond over the allegations. Even Apple and Google did not immediately comment on the issue. The regulators across the globe are increasingly cracking down on child exploitation over the internet and on the apps. The UK government has said that it could criminally charge the tech executives whose companies host unlawful content and material that damages the individuals or the country.
Photo Credits: WAAY TV