Google suspended the popular BabyBus apps from the PlayStore after the Federal Trade Commission warned that the Chinese-based developer appeared to be violating children's privacy laws.
BabyBus, which markets dozens of apps for toddlers and young children, appears to violate the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act by collecting precise geolocation data from users, according to the FTC. The app developer also transmits that data to ad networks and other third parties, the FTC says.
"We recommend that you review all of your applications with respect to the online collection of personal information from children in light of COPPA's legal requirements," Maneesha Mithal, associate director in FTC's division of privacy and identity protection, says in a letter to BabyBus (Fujian) Network Technology Co., based in Fuzhou City. The letter, dated Dec. 17, was made public last week.The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act prohibits Web site operators, app developers and online ad networks from collecting personal information from children under 13 without their parents' consent. The FTC recently defined personal information to include precise geolocation data, like GPS coordinates.
Until last week, BabyBus offered its apps through Google's PlayStore, Apple's iTunes and Amazon's Appstore for Android. By Monday morning, the apps were no longer available through Google Play.
A Google spokesperson confirmed that the developer's account is now suspended, but didn't elaborate on the reasons.
BabyBus says in a statement on its English-language site that it will bring its apps into compliance with U.S. laws. The company also said that GPS information was only gathered from users of the Android app; BabyBus attributed the data collection to “Android's third-party statistics software plug-in.”
BabyBus, which says it received the FTC's warning letter on Christmas Eve, adds that its products already “have been corrected and are ready to be released.