San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said he has settled his civil suit against MeetMe, Inc. (NASDAQ: MEET) with an agreement by the mobile-focused social network to implement industry-leading safeguards for users under the age of 18.
Herrera filed a dismissal of the case in San Francisco Superior Court this morning shortly before releasing the settlement agreement with the New Hope, Pa.-based MeetMe, which he praised for “thoughtfully and responsibly” addressing the practices his consumer protection action challenged.
But Herrera hailed as “groundbreaking” revisions to which MeetMe agreed in the settlement announced today, which will dramatically enhance privacy and safety protections for minors in the burgeoning realm of location-based networking on mobile devices.
Under terms of the settlement agreement, MeetMe will not identify locations of minor teens more specifically than their city and state, and will not display their proximity to others users more narrowly than “within one mile.” And even this limited location sharing for minor teens will now default to “off.” The settlement agreement contemplates that the product changes will be implemented within 90 days.
Financial terms of agreement include a one-time payment by MeetMe to the City Attorney´s Office of USD200,000 to resolve all claims for damages, attorneys´ fees or other costs. Because the case alleged violations of California´s Unfair Competition Law, Herrera´s litigation against MeetMe was funded almost exclusively by prior civil recoveries won by his office, rather than taxpayer dollars. State voters amended that law in 2004 to require that civil penalties recovered by public prosecutors be used exclusively to enforce consumer protection laws.