Washington

CDD Files Complaint Against Mobile App Gamer

Popular kids app company temporarily takes game offline in wake of reports of complaint 12/11/2012 10:54:55 AM Eastern

The Center for Digital Democracy has filed a
complaint against mobile game company, Mobbles Corp.,
over what CDD says is a violation of the Children's Onilne Prviacy Protection
Act.

The
complaint comes a day after the FTC released a report finding the mobile app
industry has done little to improve its policies on informing parents about
when and how info is being collected from their kids and what it is being used
for and announcing it was launching investigations into a number of companies
to see if they had violated any laws.

According
to the CDD, the Mobbles game, in which kids take care of virtual pets, collects
personal info without providing notice to parents or obtain verification of
parental consent. CDD has a number of problems with the app, including that it
shares precise physical locations of kids, that it "encourages them to
wander around at all hours of the night" to capture a Mobble, and that it
collects e-mail addresses and other contact information without parental
notification.

"As
CDD's complaint makes clear, Mobbles violates COPPA's requirement that any
online service directed at children provide notice 'of what information it
collects from children, how it uses such information, and its disclosure
practices for such information,' and obtain parental consent before collecting
personal information from a child," CDD said in a statement.

CDD says the game is among the top 10 entertainment apps, with between 10,000
and 50,000 downloads in the past 30 days on Google Play (formerly the Android
app store) alone.

The company has temporarily taken the app
offline after reports the filing was forthcoming. It posted the following
response on its Web site:

"We
have been informed by various members of the media that Mobbles has been or
will be identified in a filing with the FTC regarding the manner in which it
collects, stores and uses consumer information. At this point, however, we have
not received any official notice or service of any such filing. Thus it is
impossible for us to respond in any intelligent way to allegations that we have
neither seen nor analyzed in full. Assuming the media is reporting accurate
information, we will review any such allegations with our legal counsel and
will be better able to respond following such review."

The
company said it was committed to providing a positive experience and takes
privacy "extremely seriously."

In
addition, it said, "we never stored any location-related data nor do we
give any data to third parties."

It
promised to update its online privacy policy notice to make that clearer.
"We are committed to ensuring the safety and protection of our users'
privacy, and we have elected to take our app temporarily offline in order to focus
on these objectives and ways that we can continue to improve on all fronts."

November