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Epic Games to pay $520 million for privacy violations and unwanted charges

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The FTC announced that Epic Games has agreed to pay $520 million, due to "violating children's privacy laws" and "tricking users into making unwanted charges".

Quite a large fine overall split between:

  • $275 million penalty for violating children's privacy law.
  • $245 million in refunds for tricking users into making unwanted charges.

Recently, Epic Games made a change to their account system for younger players (that caused the Heroic Games problems) and changed a bunch of privacy settings which they did as a result of this.

Some record-breaking fines there, as the FTC said in the announcement. The $275 million is a traditional fine, but the $245 million appears to be going towards refunds to customers.

From the press release:

"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 also released their own statement here.

In other news: Epic Games are killing off a bunch of classics like Unreal Tournament.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Epic Games, Meta
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16 comments
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dpanter 19 Dec, 2022
Well, it's a start.
StalePopcorn 19 Dec, 2022
Let's not forget that, in 2019, Epic were caught stealing our Steam data upon launch and tracking us, presumably for Daddy Tencent.
BlackBloodRum 19 Dec, 2022
One of many reasons why you shouldn't use Epic Store, nor trust their EAC or EOS.

But people were told and warned many times in the past, but continue to do so thus at this point they cannot complain about it
Kohrias 19 Dec, 2022
"Epic fail!" is an evergreen, isn't it?
BTRE 19 Dec, 2022
View PC info
  • Contributing Editor
In case anyone was wondering, their statement contains the usual non-apologies or any admitting of culpability that's standard corporate speak:
Quoting: Timmy's PR department[...]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 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. 
[...]
Saving payment information by default is a common way to streamline the checkout process, so players do not have to re-enter their payment method every time they make a purchase. We’ve agreed with the FTC to change this practice, and we now offer an explicit yes or no choice to save payment information.
[...]
If a cardholder sees an unauthorized transaction on their statement, they may report it to their bank to have it reversed. When that chargeback is initiated, it is common industry practice to disable the associated account as a fraud prevention measure. We’ve updated our chargeback policy to account for non-fraud related scenarios and will only disable accounts when fraud indicators are present. We have restored thousands of accounts that were banned due to reported chargebacks under our previous policy.
It strikes me as a little incongruous that a company that took three years to add a shopping cart to their game store—a pretty universal feature in ecommerce—could make claims that the specific failings cited by the FTC and carefully worded in their statement were because "everyone else was doing it!"

Oh well, let us just hope that other developers don't start jumping off bridges, lest Epic follow suit. It wouldn't be their fault then either.
1xok 19 Dec, 2022
The main problem might be these in-game currencies (V-Bucks etc.). It is ultimately the same system that many slot machines work with. Except when you pay, you are never confronted with amounts of money. You can gamble away hundreds of dollars without ever being shown a sum of money in a normal currency.

In Fortnite, you don't buy a box for 1.99 in your own currency, but a llama for an ingame currency. As a result, children in particular lose track very quickly. And that is also the only reason for these ingame currencies. They are otherwise without any function.


Last edited by 1xok on 19 December 2022 at 3:52 pm UTC
Cyril 19 Dec, 2022
Cheh!
pb 19 Dec, 2022
So, no more free games in 2023? :P
Nozo 19 Dec, 2022
Quoting: pbSo, no more free games in 2023? :P
And then lose 50% of their user base, who only enter to grab the free games, the rest are only for Fortnite.
Purple Library Guy 19 Dec, 2022
Quoting: StalePopcornLet's not forget that, in 2019, Epic were caught stealing our Steam data upon launch and tracking us, presumably for Daddy Tencent.
Maybe, although I have plenty of faith in Epic's ability to be privacy-invading grifters all by themselves.
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