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San Francisco Mom Takes On Disney Over App Tracking

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- A San Francisco mom has filed a lawsuit against Disney and three developers claiming a popular app was collecting tracking data on her young daughter.

In a class action lawsuit filed last week, Amanda Rushing claims such tracking would violate The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), enacted by Congress in 1999.

"Most consumers, including parents of children consumers, do not know that apps created for children are engineered to surreptitiously and unlawfully collect the child-users' personal information," according to the lawsuit.

In a statement released to CBS, Disney said "the complaint is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of COPPA principles and we look forward to defending this action in Court."

The entertainment giant said it "has a robust COPPA compliance program and we maintain strict data collection and use policies for Disney apps created for children and families."

Appearing on CBS This Morning, Jason Tanz of Wired said the charge is that Disney allowed advertising firms access to the apps. He said a 'persistent identifier' is used by the ad firms that "can track not just what somebody does inside the app, but also where they go (on the internet) afterwards."

Tanz said the tracking allows the firms to serve the kinds of ads that may be attractive. It is not collecting personal information like your name and address.

"It's not like they are tracking where you go because they know that you -- Charlie Rose -- are going to Disneyland tomorrow," Tanz said. "It's that they want a more general sense of what category person you are and there for tailor that experience to you."

Rushing claims that COPPA requires parental permission to access the information from any user under the age of 13.

"Plaintiff never knew that Defendants collected, disclosed, or used her child's personal information because Defendants at all times failed to provide Plaintiff any of the required disclosures, never sought verifiable parental consent, and never provided a mechanism by which Plaintiff could provide verifiable consent," according to the lawsuit.

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