Weight Watchers Affiliates to Shed $1.5 Million in FTC COPPA Settlement

  • The FTC announced a settlement with WW International, Inc. (f/k/a Weight Watchers) and its subsidiary Kurbo Inc. to resolve allegations that the companies violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act by marketing a weight loss app to children as young as eight and collecting their personal information without parental permission.
  • According to the Complaint filed by the DOJ on the FTC’s behalf, the “Kurbo by WW” app allegedly allowed children to easily bypass age restrictions and register without parental consent, and the companies continued to allow children to access the app even after their profile was revised to reflect that their real age was under 13. The Complaint further alleges that WW by Kurbo only provided notice of the collection of personal information through a series of hyperlinks, which parents were not required to access when registering, and that the companies retained children’s personal information indefinitely and only deleted data upon request by a parent in violation of COPPA’s data retention provisions.
  • Under the terms of the Stipulated Order, WW International, Inc. and Kurbo Inc. will pay $1.5 million in civil penalties, must destroy all personal information previously collected in a manner that did not comply with COPPA parental notice requirements, and must delete any affected work product that used data improperly collected from children. They are also prohibited from retaining a child’s personal information for longer than necessary to fulfill its purpose, and must obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting a child’s personal information. In addition, the companies must make reasonable efforts to ensure parents receive direct notice of  personal information collection, use, and disclosure practices.