Children’s Advertising Review Unit Finds TickTalk Tech in Violation of COPPA and CARU’s Privacy Guidelines; Company Agrees to Corrective Actions

For Immediate Release 
Contact: Abby Hills, Director of Communications, BBB National Programs 

703.247.9330 / press@bbbnp.org

McLean, VA – March 08, 2022 – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) of BBB National Programs has found TickTalk Tech, LLC, owner and operator of the TickTalk 4 Smart Watch phone and coordinating app, in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and CARU’s Self-Regulatory Guidelines for Children’s Online Privacy Protection. TickTalk agreed to correct the violations. 

The TickTalk 4 Smart Watch phone, its website, and the TickTalk 4 app came to CARU’s attention through its routine monitoring of privacy practices affecting children. CARU, the nation’s first FTC-approved COPPA Safe Harbor Program, monitors online services, including but not limited to websites and mobile apps, for compliance with COPPA and CARU’s Privacy Guidelines to ensure that children’s data is collected and handled responsibly. 

CARU determined that TickTalk failed to provide clear and complete, and non-confusing, notice of its children’s information collection practices in its privacy policy and failed to provide any notice that would constitute a direct notice to parents as required by COPPA. 

CARU noted that the privacy policy for the product and app is not in a prominent location prior to purchase and is likely to be missed by many parents. Although the website’s advertising tells users about some Smart Watch features that involve the collection or sharing of children’s personal information, such as through collecting location tracking information and enabling children to create and send videos, texts, and voice messages, the site fails to prominently lay out for parents, in an easy-to-find location prior to purchase, specifically what personal information TickTalk can collect from children (actively or passively) and how it uses and/or discloses such information. Moreover, TickTalk’s privacy policy, terms of service, and other online statements included inconsistent, confusing and/or contradictory statements about its collection, use, or disclosure of children’s personal information.    

Further, according to CARU, TickTalk did not provide a means for parents to provide verifiable consent to its information collection practices prior to the collection of information from children. Even if TickTalk had included a verifiable parental consent mechanism during registration or set-up, parents could not provide meaningful consent, given TickTalk’s failure to provide clear, complete, and non-confusing notice of its practices regarding the collection and use of children’s personal information.  

Therefore, CARU determined that TickTalk violated COPPA and CARU’s Privacy Guidelines. 

CARU recommended that TickTalk take the following corrective actions: 

  • Revise its website and app to provide parents, upfront, in a clear and conspicuous manner, with direct notice of what personal information the operator can collect from children through their use of the service, both passively and actively, and how such personal information can be used and disclosed, together with a clear and prominent link to its privacy policy.  
  • Correct its privacy policy, on its website and app and in any other location where parents can access it, to provide a complete, accurate, consistent, and non-confusing statement of its information collection, use, and disclosure practices regarding children’s personal information, and its practices regarding retention or deletion of any such information, including how parents can prohibit further use of such information or have it deleted.
  • In immediate proximity to notice of its collection, use and disclosure practices, and prior to parents’ completion of the registration process, provide a clear, prominent, and unavoidable means to obtain verifiable consent from parents to such practices. 
  • Take necessary steps on the operator’s website and other advertising and marketing materials to clearly and prominently present all material information about the functionality and uses of the online service, prior to the registration and set-up process.  

 

TickTalk participated in CARU’s self-regulatory program and provided CARU with a detailed plan to remedy the concerns raised in the decision to comply with COPPA and CARU’s Privacy Guidelines.  

All BBB National Programs case decision summaries can be found in the case decision library. For the full text of NAD, NARB, and CARU decisions, subscribe to the online archive

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About BBB National Programs:  BBB National Programs is where businesses turn to enhance consumer trust and consumers are heard. The non-profit organization creates a fairer playing field for businesses and a better experience for consumers through the development and delivery of effective third-party accountability and dispute resolution programs. Embracing its role as an independent organization since the restructuring of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in June 2019, BBB National Programs today oversees more than a dozen leading national industry self-regulation programs, and continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-directed marketing, and privacy. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org. 

About Children’s Advertising Review Unit: The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), a division of BBB National Programs and the nation’s first Safe Harbor Program under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), helps companies comply with laws and guidelines that protect children from deceptive or inappropriate advertising and ensure that, in an online environment, children's data is collected and handled responsibly. When advertising or data collection practices are misleading, inappropriate, or inconsistent with laws and guidelines, CARU seeks change through the voluntary cooperation of companies and where relevant, enforcement action. 

 

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