Epic Games Inc. was fined US$ 520 million dollars for the Federal Trade Commissionfor abusive practices against consumers in fortnite🇧🇷 In the first fine, the company was found guilty of violating the Children’s Right Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). In the second case, the FTC found Epic guilty of tricking consumers into making unwanted purchases.
For violation of COPPA, Epic Games Inc. was fined $275 million. In the practice of deceiving the consumer, the fine is US$ 245 million. The first penalty is the biggest in the history of the FTC — antitrust and consumer rights agency in the United States. In Reais, Epic will pay just over R$ 2.7 billion in fines.
Epic Games sued for violating children’s privacy
In the press release where he reveals the result, the FTC claims that Epic Games Inc.🇧🇷 collected personal data from children without checking parental consent🇧🇷 Adding to the problem, the system used to delete the data of those under 18 years of age led parents to “walk in circles”, without having their request accepted by the company.
The FTC further claims that Fortnite’s default settings are harmful to children and teens as they allow text and audio communications to be active. The agency reveals that, when forming matches between under-18s and adults, they are exposed to bullying, threats and harassment. This toxicity causes psychological trauma and has created cases in which children and adolescents have been urged to take their own lives.
According to the FTC, Epic officials expressed their concern about these default settings, asking the company to change Fortnite communication. The agency reports that the company was reluctant to act. When he made the change, he left the voice chat off button in a place where users would be hard to find.
Along with the $275 million fine, Epic Games Inc. will have to erase all personal data for users under 13 years old and leave in-game communication channels disabled by default for all players under 18 years old.
Epic created a bad interface to deceive consumers
The second fine applied against Epic – actually a refund of US$ 245 million – was for the practice of “dark patterns”, the act of deceiving the consumer to make unwanted purchases and making it difficult to request a refund. In plain English, we can call this practice “click confusion”.
While the first fine was applied for violating the rights of children and adolescents, this second penalty is “free for all ages”. According to the FTC, Epic created a series of patterns and button mappings to trick consumers of all ages into making unintentional purchases.
The agency claims that Epic Games Inc.’s “counterintuitive, inconsistent and confusing setup”. takes players to make purchases by clicking a single button.
The Federal Trade Commission explains that in some cases, users could be charged when turning the game on from sleep mode while the screen was still loading. There are even situations where a simple click on an item preview led to an unwanted purchase.
Of course, nothing is so bad that it couldn’t get worse. Because it is a very successful game with the public under 18 years old, the FTC listed that Epic’s system led children and adolescents to buy products without parental consent. The company also blocked the account of players who tried to dispute the illegal purchase.
As with the COPPA violation, company officials also warned about the problem. When Epic applied the “fix”, the cancel and refund buttons were “purposely created to make it difficult to use🇧🇷
And, as life is a great irony, the case makes Apple laugh. As much as the criticisms of the App Store’s payment system are valid (and yes, it is wrong for the company not to allow other methods), Apple’s billing service allows refunds to be made more easily.
Today a Tim sleeps smiling — Cook, from Apple. Not Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games.