The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Epic Games have reached an agreement over accusations that the company may not have acted in the best interest of privacy when it comes to the personal information of children and used “dark patterns to trick users into making purchases” in Fortnite.
First up, a $275 million fine (largest of its kind) for violations of COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act). The FTC accused Epic Games of not only collecting the personal information of children without parental consent, but also used “privacy-invasive default settings and deceptive interfaces that tricked Fortnite users, including teenagers and children.”
This accusation is likely a big reason Fortnite recently announced their new “Cabined Accounts” system when it comes to minor Fortnite players.
The second part of the settlement involves not a fine, but direct refunds to customers. The FTC accused Epic Games of “dark patterns” in their billing. These practices included deceptive menus and confirmation buttons in places easy to click by accident, charges without authorization or parental involvement, and locking of purchased items if a customer dared to challenge a charge. The agreement requires Epic to refund users who make a claim and to remove these practices from future processing, including a stop to Epic blocking accounts in dispute over charges.
The FTC alleges that Epic ignored millions of complaints and internal flags raised over billing procedures.
Just north of the border here in the US, Epic will face another court case in Canada that was just recently approved to move forward by a Canadian judge. This suit brings forth accusations that Fortnite is created to be as addicting as possible and that children are harmed by that design practice.
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