The maker of the popular online video game “Fortnite” has agreed to a record settlement for violating children’s privacy, exposing children and teens to potential harassment and deceiving players of all ages into making unwanted in-game purchases allegations.
Federal Trade Commission announced on monday North Carolina-based Epic Games will pay a total of $520 million to settle allegations that it collected personal data from children without the prior consent of their parents or guardians.
Epic is also accused of exposing children and teens to dangerous and traumatic issues such as bullying, threats, harassment, and suicide while using Fortnite through the game’s default real-time voice and text features.
Players of all ages are being tricked into buying online credits by what the FTC calls “counterintuitive, inconsistent and confusing” button configurations, a phenomenon known as “Dark Mode” Epic allegedly charged consumers hundreds of millions of dollars without authorization.
“Epic’s lax privacy practices put children and teens at risk and exposed consumers to millions of dollars in illegal charges through the use of dark patterns,” Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. announced the proposed order, the company will be required to change its default settings, refund millions of dollars to consumers, and pay record-setting fines for its privacy violations.”
In a statement on its website, Epic acknowledged the settlement.
“No developer creates a game to end here,” it says in part. “The video game industry is a place of rapid innovation, player expectations are high, and new ideas are paramount. Regulations enacted decades ago do not specify how the gaming ecosystem should function. Laws haven’t changed, but their application has happened The world has changed, and long-standing industry practices are no longer sufficient. We accepted this agreement because we want Epic to be at the forefront of consumer protection and provide the best possible experience for our players.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, Epic was recently valued at $32 billion. “Fortnite” alone earned $5.5 billion in 2018 and $3.7 billion in 2019, with nearly 400 million users worldwide, According to documents reviewed by gaming site IGN.