The Federal Trade Commission of the United States, FTC for its acronym in English, has ordered that Google Play and Apple Store temporarily remove the download of three dating apps used by minors.
“Although apps can no longer be downloaded, they can still be used by users who own them on their devices.”
The elimination has occurred after Lisa Weintraub Schifferle, an attorney with the FTC, pointed out that these apps violated the laws of the FTC and the Children’s Internet Protection Act, better known as COPPA, English.
FastMeet, Meet24 and Meet4U, belonging to the Ukrainian group Wildec, allow users to use their dating platforms even though they do not have the minimum of 13 years of age established by law.
In addition, the aforementioned apps do not hide or offer special protections for registered users under 13 years of age. This makes minors visible to adults, turning them into potential victims of harassment, rape and even child trafficking and exploitation.
In fact, members of the FTC tested the functions of Meet24 and were able to find certain users near the locations indicated in the app. Some of them were adults and they said they were between 12 and 13 years old.
The COPPA Law requires developers of apps that request parental authorization to users under 13 years old who try to register on their platform. However, FastMeet, Meet24 and Meet4U seemed to be aware of the age of their users and still acted negligently in this regard.
For its part, the FTC has only ordered a temporary removal of the apps. Within a month, the commission will conduct a new investigation to see if the platforms have made the necessary changes to adapt to US legislation.
In this sense, it is important to clarify that although the apps have been removed from the Play Store and Apple Store, users who already have them on their mobile devices can still access them, regardless of whether they are minors or not.
This same diatribe was the one that was raised in India, when the country declared the elimination of Tik Tok from all platforms for disseminating and containing pornographic material.
These cases fuel the debate on the role of government control in digital media and apps, especially regarding the situation of child protection.