FTC Puts Kids Smart Watches on Privacy Watch List

The Federal Trade Commission has sent warning letter to two foreign companies about kids-targeted smart watches and apps sold through the Google Play and Apple iTunes stores.

The FTC has told China-based Gator Group and Sweden-based Tinnitell Inc. that they could be running afoul of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) -- Gator Group with its Kids GPS Gator Watch (billed as a child's first cell phone) and Tinitell with its app that works with a mobile phone worn as a watch.

Related: Groups Call on FTC to Investigate Kids Smart Watches

Tinitell is actually no longer making the watch, but has said it would support the watches through September.

COPPA requires any company collecting personal info from kids under 13 to post clear privacy policies, the FTC said, and to notify parents and get their consent before collecting.

In the letters, copies of which were sent as an FYI to Google and Facebook, the FTC pointed out that even though they are based outside the U.S., the companies are required to comply with COPPA when their products are directed to kids in the U.S.

"The online services offered by both companies appear to be directed to children and to collect precise geolocation information from children," the FTC said. "The letters note that a review of both companies’ services reveal that they do not appear to provide direct notice of their collection practices and do not seek verifiable parental consent before collecting, using or disclosing personal information as required by COPPA."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.