Epic Games to pay $520 million in fines to FTC

A general view of the main stage during the Fortnite World Cup Finals e-sports event at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Flushing, New York, July 26, 2019.

Catalina Fragoso | USA Sports TODAY | Reuters

Epic Games, the developer and publisher of the video game Fornite, will pay a $520 million fine to settle with the FTC over violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

The FTC alleges that Epic pairs children and young people “with strangers”, exposing them to “dangerous and psychologically damaging problems” and failing to provide an adequate system of controls for the game. Parents.

FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan said: “Protecting the public, especially children, from online privacy invasions and dark patterns is the Commission’s top priority and real action is taken to be on top of the Commission’s priorities. This exam clearly shows businesses that the FTC is cracking down on these illegal activities.” statement.

Epic will pay two fines, including a $245 million fine against Fortnite’s in-game store and refund system, and another $275 million to address privacy concerns. children’s private.

At the heart of the settlement was the FTC’s argument that Epic made deliberate decisions to appeal to children, citing “music, celebrity, and brand partnerships,” including deals with Travis Scott, Ariana Grande and an extensive collection of Fortnite themed items.

Despite the decision to intentionally market to children, the FTC said Epic was unable to “cure” or resolve the COPPA violations. The FTC called Epic’s efforts to address harassment on the platform “weak will,” noting that it took two years after launch for Epic to “finally” [introduce] parental controls over the game.”

Epic allegedly failed to make decisions that protect children and meet federal regulations, despite research indicating that certain features, including voice chat, pose “a health risk” negative social behavior,” according to an internal Epic report cited by the FTC.

“Throughout that time, children have been subjected to bullying, intimidation and harassment, including sexually, through Fortnite,” the FTC complaint reads.

Large settlement, even by FTC standards, but nowhere near a fine of 5 billion dollars that metaformerly known as Facebook, was asked for payment in 2019.

Still, it represents a sizable chunk of rap for a company that raked in $5.5 billion in profits between 2018 and 2019, according to court documents. Reviewed by The Verge.

“Of course, to enable parental controls, parents first need to know they exist,” the FTC complaint notes. Only in 2019, “long after Epic obtained empirical evidence indicating a large number of Fortnite players” under the age of 13, did Epic introduce an age verification system.

“The laws have not changed, but their application has evolved and long-established industry practices are no longer sufficient. We accepted this agreement because we want Epic to be at the forefront of consumer protection and supply. provide the best experience for our players,” Epic said in a statement.


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