Due for release this fall, the new app “Peeple” will allow users to rate other people, much like Yelp allows users to rate businesses. The catch: those people will not be able to opt-out of the app.
To set up another person’s account, the user must supply Peeple with that person’s cell phone number. While cell phone numbers aren’t considered private information, collecting many phone numbers could get the attention of the Federal Trade Commission or its state counterparts.
Peeple could also run afoul of child protection laws if it doesn’t ensure that minors’ information isn’t collected by the app, said Peter Swire
, senior counsel in Alston & Bird’s Privacy & Data Security Group
. The app’s terms of service requires users to be over 21, but that restriction is easy to overcome.
“There might be a legal problem under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act for information about a child under the age of 13, unless there is consent from the parent,” Swire said. “If there is no opt-out mechanism even for the phone numbers of children, then I believe the company could gain careful attention from regulators.”