Apple and Google have removed three dating apps from their online stores after the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleged the apps allowed kids as young as 12 to access them.
In a recent letter, the FTC warned Ukraine-based Wildec LLC, which operates the apps Meet24, FastMeet, and Meet4U, that the three dating apps appeared to be in violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the FTC Act.
"The apps have been removed from the app stores until they address the alleged violations outlined by the FTC," the commission said on Monday.
The dating apps collected users' birth dates, email addresses, photographs and real-time location data.
While the three apps claimed in their privacy policies to prohibit users under the age of 13, the apps failed to block users who indicated they were under 13 from using the apps and from being contacted by other users of the apps.
In its review of the apps, FTC staff found users who indicated they were as young as 12.
"Allowing adult users to communicate with children poses a serious health and safety risk. Several individuals have reportedly faced criminal charges for allegedly contacting or attempting to contact minors using Wildec's apps," said FTC.
The FTC's COPPA Rule requires companies collecting personal information from children under the age of 13 to post clear privacy policies and to notify parents and get their verifiable consent before collecting, using, or sharing personal information from a child.
The FTC also issued a consumer alert for parents about the dating apps.