Group says Nickelodeon app violates kids' privacy

SpongeBob Diner Dash collects personal information from children in violation of U.S. law, the complaint says

Smartphone app SpongeBob Diner Dash violates U.S. law by collecting a "wide range" of personal information from children, including full names and email addresses, according to a complaint filed by the Center for Digital Democracy, an advocacy group.

The CDD complaint, filed with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, accuses television network Nickelodeon and mobile game-maker PlayFirst of violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by using the game to collect personal information from kids and by failing to provide an adequate description of the personal information the game collects and uses.

Nickelodeon and PlayFirst engage in deceptive acts by representing in the privacy disclosure on the Apple App Store that the app's "data collection is in accordance with applicable law, such as COPPA," CDD said in its complaint.

"When the leading children's entertainment [network] thumbs its nose at protecting kids' privacy, it reveals a cynical and callous attitude toward reaping the great financial rewards from marketing to kids by deliberately disregarding the kids online privacy law," Jeffrey Chester, CDD's executive director said by email.

Neither Nickelodeon nor PlayFirst responded immediately to email messages seeking comments on the CDD complaint.

This is the second COPPA complaint CDD has filed with the FTC within a week. Last Tuesday, CDD filed a complaint against popular mobile children's game Mobbles, saying the game collects personal information from children without providing notice to parents.

CDD's two complaints follow an FTC report, released a week ago, saying that many mobile apps aimed at children collect and share personal data without notifying parents, potentially violating COPPA.

"Given last week's FTC mobile app report and this case, it's clear kids' data is at risk online," Chester said. "It is clear that this is not an isolated incident."

The CDD complaint asked the FTC to investigate the apps' data collection and privacy notice practices, including its use of mobile marketing technologies such as unique device identifiers and device tokens, which enable companies to send custom messages to individual children.

SpongeBob Diner Dash is a so-called freemium game, which can be initially downloaded for free, but is designed to encourage users to buy virtual coins that can be spent on items such as shoes that make SpongeBob walk faster, or a frying pan that makes the food cook faster.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Internet-based applications and servicesU.S. Federal Trade CommissionMobile gamesregulationPlayFirstCenter for Digital DemocracygovernmentinternetprivacyNickelodeonJeffrey Chestersecuritygames

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?