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Epic Games To Pay Over US$500 Million Fine Over Fortnite Microtransactions

Fortnite developer Epic Games will pay a total of US$540 million to settle allegations made by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

According to the FTC, the fine is due to two separate “record-breaking” settlements. One is a US$275 million fine for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection [COPPA] rule, which imposes limitations on websites and online services directed to children under 13 years old. Epic will also have to pay US$245 million in refunds to customers over its “dark patterns.”

The FTC alleges that Epic Games “deployed design tricks, known as dark patterns (which Wikipedia defines as “a user interface that has been carefully crafted to trick users into doing things, such as buying overpriced insurance with their purchase or signing up for recurring bills”), to dupe millions of players into making unintentional purchases”. Epic Games will be required to “adopt strong privacy default settings for children and teens, ensuring that voice and text communications are turned off by default”.

FTC Chair Lina M. Khan said:

“As our complaints note, Epic used privacy-invasive default settings and deceptive interfaces that tricked Fortnite users, including teenagers and children. Protecting the public, and especially children, from online privacy invasions and dark patterns is a top priority for the Commission, and these enforcement actions make clear to businesses that the FTC is cracking down on these unlawful practices.”

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