Social game developer RockYou (Zoo World
) has settled its case with the Federal Trade Commission over failing to adequately protect its users' privacy when their information was stolen by hackers two years ago.
The consumer protection agency alleges that RockYou, despite touting its data security, failed to take appropriate measures to guard against the hackers that managed to steal personal information (email addresses and passwords) from 32 million of its users in late 2009.
Furthermore, the FTC claims the developer knowingly violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act Rule (COPPA) by collecting information from 179,000 children under 13 years old -- a proposed settlement for the COPPA charges requires RockYou to pay a $250,000 civil penalty.
Its proposed settlement order, which is subject to court approval, also requires RockYou to implement and maintain a comprehensive data security program, and bars the company from future COPPA violations or deceptive privacy/data security claims.
"RockYou is pleased to reach a settlement and gratified to put this matter behind us," says RockYou CEO Lisa Marino in a statement provided to Gamasutra. "We appreciate the work the FTC has done in this process as they have been fair, reasonable and timely throughout."
She adds, "The events that led to this complaint occurred over two years ago and we have long since removed the features that led to this investigation. The focus of our business has evolved -- we no longer operate applications such as those included in the complaint, and we are in full compliance with Facebook's policies."
This settlement is the latest in a series of setbacks for the company, which laid off more than half of its staff
last November, and planned to cut 127 more jobs afterward. Not long before that, its SVP Jonathan Knight jumped ship
to join its rival Zynga.
RockYou also recently disassociated itself from UK developer Playdemic, which it purchased in early 2011
; and from John Romero's Loot Drop, which it partnered with
to publish Cloudforest Expedition
(the game is no longer available online at Facebook).