Yelp is the latest company to come under fire from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for allegedly gathering names and email addresses from children without parental consent.
The San Francisco company paid $450,000 to settle the FTC's lawsuit, reports Bloomberg.
The commission alleged that Yelp violated privacy laws over a four-year period starting in 2009, when it failed to disqualify the registration of minors who opened accounts.
Yelp’s blog states that “only about 0.02 percent of users who actually completed Yelp’s registration process during this time period provided an underage birth date, and we have good reason to believe that many of them were actually adults.”
The company, which provides its users with a forum for critiquing restaurants and finding goods and services, says it has fixed the bug in its registration system and closed affected accounts.
The FTC has been on the warpath against Internet companies that allegedly target minors. Google and Apple paid a combined $51 million in fines for allegedly allowing children to make purchases on their mobiles without parental consent. Amazon is fighting the FTC on similar charges.
Yelp states on its blog that it doesn’t promote itself as a “place for children.”