You will pay for violating children’s privacy law and tricking users into making purchases they did not intend to make.
Fortnite creator Epic Games will pay $520 million to settle allegations that it illegally collected personal information from children and tricked people into making purchases, the company and the US Federal Trade Commission say.
It will pay a record $275 million fine for violating children’s privacy law and adopt strict default privacy settings for young people, the commission said Monday. Epic Games will also pay $245 million to reimburse consumers tricked into making purchases they did not intend to make.
“Epic used privacy-invading default settings and deceptive interfaces that misled Fortnite users, including teens and children,” commission chair Lina Khan said in a statement.
The commission made the announcement as it takes on a stronger role in policing the gaming industry, including Microsoft’s lawsuit to block its $69 billion bid to acquire Activision.
Epic said in a statement Monday that it had removed the pay-to-win and pay-to-progress mechanics when two players compete against each other and removed random item loot boxes in 2019. It also said it was implementing an explicit yes. //no option to save payment information.
He said players could request refunds via credit cards. “If a cardholder sees an unauthorized transaction on his statement, he can report it to his bank so they can reverse it,” the company said in its statement.
To protect children, Epic said it had created features like easier-to-access parental controls and a PIN requirement to let parents authorize purchases and a daily spending limit for children under 13.
The commission said Epic employees had raised concerns about the company’s default setting for children, saying people should be required to opt out of voice chats. The commission said that voice and text chat should be turned off by default.
Children’s privacy advocates were pleased with the settlement. “Children should also have their data privacy rights more respected through this enforcement of federal children’s data privacy law,” said Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy.
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