Unity Technologies Reaches Settlement Of Children's Privacy Lawsuit

The San Francisco-based company Unity Technologies, which provides tech services to gaming developers, has agreed to settle a class-action complaint alleging it facilitated behavioral targeting of young children, according to court papers filed Friday.

Settlement terms have not yet been disclosed, and the agreement hasn't yet been accepted by U.S. District Court Judge James Donato in the Northern District of California.

The potential settlement stems from a lawsuit dating to 2017, when some parents whose children played gaming apps sued Disney, Viacom and outside companies -- including Unity, Upsight and Kochava -- for allegedly violating children's privacy by harvesting data for ad-targeting purposes. 

The apps -- including “Princess Palace Pets” and “Where’s My Water?” -- allegedly came embedded with tracking software from mobile ad-tech companies.

The parents alleged that the ad-tech companies collected identifiers (like the Android Advertising ID) as well as data used for device fingerprinting (including the user’s language, time zone, and mobile network).

Last year, Donato rejected the companies' request to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that the alleged tracking didn't cause the kind of harms that would justify a federal lawsuit.

“Current privacy expectations are developing, to say the least, with respect to a key issue raised in these cases -- whether the data subject owns and controls his or her personal information, and whether a commercial entity that secretly harvests it commits a highly offensive or egregious act,” Donato wrote in a 22-page decision.

The most significant of the parents' claims was "intrusion upon seclusion” -- which occurs when companies violate people's expectations of privacy in a "highly offensive" way.

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