OpenX to Pay $2M for Collecting Data on Children

Pat Maio
Pat Maio has held various reporting and editorial management positions over the past 25 years, having specialized in business and government reporting. He has held reporting jobs with the San Diego Union-Tribune, Orange County Register, Dow Jones News and other newspapers in Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.
OpenX to Pay $2M for Collecting Data on Children
Photo by Igor Starkov on Unsplash

OpenX, a Pasadena-based ad tech company, agreed to pay $2 million to settle allegations that it amassed troves of data on children as it flaunted regulations intended to protect data privacy.

The venture-backed firm used code to “inadvertently” pull location specific data from users even when they opted out and sold children’s data to third party advertisers.

Once alerted of the practice by Google, which initially discovered the leak in October 2018, the company put barriers in place to end the breach.

“To put it plainly, it was a mistake,” the company admitted in a Tuesday blog post. “In this situation, an unintentional error was made.”

The company boasts that it’s the largest ad exchange offering advertisers targeted demographics or audiences.

Since its inception in 2008, OpenX has raised $85 million in venture funding, including Samsung Ventures, Accel Partners and Wavemaker Partners, among others, according to Pitchbook.

“We take this matter incredibly seriously, and since we have always held ourselves to the highest quality standards, we thought it would be helpful to provide some context and background about what happened and what we have done about it,” the company stated.

Bottomline: The company says “a very small percentage of our ad requests” came from apps that targeted kids.

Nonetheless, since the ad requests came from apps directed at children, the Federal Trade Commission concluded after an investigation that OpenX did not put in place sufficient safeguards or have a privacy policy in place that sought the permission of parents to release the data.

The failure to protect kids under the age of 13 violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, also known as COPPA, according to the FTC in a settlement filed on Dec. 15 with the U.S District Court in Los Angeles.

The law details what a website operator must include in a privacy policy, when and how to seek consent from a parent or guardian, and what responsibilities an operator has to protect children's privacy and safety online.

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David Shultz

David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

A Fisker electric vehicle.​
Courtesy of Fisker

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Spencer Rascoff serves as executive chairman of dot.LA. He is an entrepreneur and company leader who co-founded Zillow, Hotwire, dot.LA, Pacaso and Supernova, and who served as Zillow's CEO for a decade. During Spencer's time as CEO, Zillow won dozens of "best places to work" awards as it grew to over 4,500 employees, $3 billion in revenue, and $10 billion in market capitalization. Prior to Zillow, Spencer co-founded and was VP Corporate Development of Hotwire, which was sold to Expedia for $685 million in 2003. Through his startup studio and venture capital firm, 75 & Sunny, Spencer is an active angel investor in over 100 companies and is incubating several more.

​Diankha Linear
Diankha Linear

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Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

LA Tech ‘Moves’: Dreamscape, LinQuest and PetDX Gain New CEOs

“Moves,” our roundup of job changes in L.A. tech, is presented by Interchange.LA, dot.LA's recruiting and career platform connecting Southern California's most exciting companies with top tech talent. Create a free Interchange.LA profile here—and if you're looking for ways to supercharge your recruiting efforts, find out more about Interchange.LA's white-glove recruiting service by emailing Sharmineh O’Farrill Lewis ( Please send job changes and personnel moves to


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