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 newsletter!

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

Tags governmentsecurityprivacyregulationinternetgamesU.S. Federal Trade CommissionInternet-based applications and servicesCenter for Digital DemocracyJeffrey ChesterPlayFirstMobile gamesNickelodeon

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

Essentials

Mobile

Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?