The Federal Trade Commission announced today that Google and Apple have removed three dating apps from their app stores because they might be used by sexual predators to find children. In a parent consultant, the FTC lawyer Lisa Weintraub Schifferle wrote that FastMeet, Meet24 and Meet4U, all manufactured by the Ukrainian company Wildec, had apparently violated the Online Child Protection Act (COPPA) and the FTC Act.
In a letter to Wildec in early May, the FTC said the apps did not prevent users under the age of 13 from using the apps or being visible to other users. When testing the Find24 search feature, FTC employees found users near their location who said they were already 1
COPPA requires app developers to seek verifiable parental consent before asking children under 13 for personal information. The FTC told Wildec that the failure appears to violate COPPA because the company "apparently [s] has the actual knowledge that children are using their apps." The agency also said it will review the apps again next month if they do to abide by the law.
Even with apps with security measures, the exploitation of children is still a serious problem. Earlier this year, for example, the UK Government began reviewing laws requiring age verification checks for dating app users, after over 30 cases of child rape have been reported in 30 cases in a Sunday Times report how Tinder and Grindr were linked
TechCrunch has emailed Wildec for comments.