Mattel, Hasbro, Viacom reach deal to stop tracking children online for marketing purposes

The Denver Post
Bloomberg News

Children visiting websites for SpongeBob SquarePants, Barbie and other popular kids’ brands will no longer have their personal data illegally tracked for marketing purposes under a deal between New York’s top cop and four companies including Viacom and Mattel.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said on Tuesday that a two-year probe of the companies, including Hasbro and JumpStart Games, found they violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The companies used technology that allowed third-party vendors to collect and use personal information from children under the age of 13 without parental approval, Schneiderman said in a statement.

The investigation “revealed that some of our nation’s biggest companies failed to protect kids’ privacy,” Schneiderman said. “Federal law demands that children are off-limits to the prying eyes of advertisers.”

The probe, which Schneiderman said is the first of its kind in the U.S., covered sites for Viacom’s Nick Jr. and Nickelodeon brands; Mattel’s Barbie, Hot Wheels, and American Girl toys; Hasbro’s My Little Pony, Littlest Pet Shop, and Nerf; and JumpStart’s Neopets, a virtual pet community it purchased from Viacom in 2014. The companies will pay $835,000 in total as part of the agreement.

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