'Fortnite' Developer Epic Games Fined $520 Million for Children's Privacy Breaches, 'Dark Patterns and Billing Practices'

Epic Games, the developer behind the popular video game Fortnite, has agreed to pay $520 million in penalties and ucstomer refunds to settle privacy violations and the use of "dark patterns and billing practices" intended to dupe millions of players into spending money on in-game purchases. 

The company will pay the fines in two separate installments. The first is a $275 million penalty for violating the COPPA Rule—the largest penalty ever imposed for violating FTC rules. The second is $245 million in customer refunds, which is the FTC’s largest refund amount in a gaming case and its largest administrative order in history.

In a joint statement, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the fines, the largest ever imposed by the FTC.

"As our complaints note, Epic used privacy-invasive default settings and deceptive interfaces that tricked Fortnite users, including teenagers and children," said FTC Chair Lina M. Khan. "Protecting the public, and especially children, from online privacy invasions and dark patterns is a top priority for the Commission, and these enforcement actions make clear to businesses that the FTC is cracking down on these unlawful practices.”

“The Justice Department takes very seriously its mission to protect consumers’ data privacy rights,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “This proposed order sends a message to all online providers that collecting children’s personal information without parental consent will not be tolerated.”

Epic, which was recently valued at a whopping $32 billion, did not comment on the allegations, but admitted that “no developer creates a game with the intention of ending up here.”

“The video game industry is a place of fast-moving innovation, where player expectations are high and new ideas are paramount. Statutes written decades ago don’t specify how gaming ecosystems should operate,” the statement read. “The laws have not changed, but their application has evolved and long-standing industry practices are no longer enough. We accepted this agreement because we want Epic to be at the forefront of consumer protection and provide the best experience for our players.”

Image: Title: Fortnite


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