Oath, the media group formed of the former Yahoo and AOL brands, has come to a $4.95 million settlement over claims that it violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
The New York attorney general’s office brought the case against Oath over its practice of running targeted adverts on sites designed primarily for the use of children, which occured up until November 2017.
Oath Inc. owns a variety of media outlets, including Huffpost, Tech Crunch and Engadget amongst others.
It’s said that Oath ignored warnings that sites aimed primarily at children were subject to COPPA and that ads which collect sensitive data through cookies and location information would violate COPPA rules. Previously, AOL’s systems behaved in the same manner.
In addition, AOL is accused of knowingly disclosing to third parties data collected on web users under 13 years old.
In a statement, state Attorney General Barbara Underwood said:
COPPA is meant to protect young children from being tracked and targeted by advertisers online. AOL flagrantly violated the law — and children’s privacy — and will now pay the largest-ever penalty under COPPA.
My office remains committed to protecting children online and will continue to hold accountable those who violate the law.
According to TechCrunch, one of Oath’s outlets, Oath stopped short of admitting wrongdoing, instead saying, in a statement to TechCrunch:
We are pleased to see this matter resolved and remain wholly committed to protecting children’s privacy online.
The settlement is the largest ever payout agreed under COPPA. As part of the agreement, Oath has agreed to substantial reforms of its practices.