March 9, 2020
The Federal Trade Commission has approved a $1.5 million joint settlement order from the commission and the Department of Justice against weight loss and fitness services provider WW International (formerly Weight Watchers) and its subsidiary Kurbo, Inc. In an unprecedented move, the FTC is also requiring WW to destroy all the data associated with the violations as well as the products that used the data. WW has been accused of violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act by marketing to and collecting data from users under the age of thirteen between 2014 and 2019 without parental consent.
Though the sign-up process requires each user to enter a birthdate proving they are an adult, the allegations claim that underage users were encouraged to lie about their age during the registration process, and were not booted out even after adjusting their accounts to reflect their real age. In the official press release, FTC Chair Lina M. Khan stated: “Weight Watchers and Kurbo marketed weight management services for use by children as young as eight, and then illegally harvested their personal and sensitive health information. Our order against these companies requires them to delete their ill-gotten data, destroy any algorithms derived from it, and pay a penalty for their lawbreaking.”