After a U.S. advocacy group contacted the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), SpongeBob Diner Dash was removed by Nickelodeon from Apple's (News - Alert) iTunes app store. The Center for Digital Democracy said that without parental consent, children's e-mail addresses had been collected. Last week, after the CDD filed a similar complaint, another children's app, Mobbles, was temporarily pulled from the Apple App store and Google Android Play store.
FTC (News - Alert) was urged by the Washington DC based group to investigate Nickelodeon and mobile game maker PlayFirst's privacy practices. According to this group, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) had been violated due to its deceptive mobile marketing technologies.
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"SpongeBob Diner Dash game asks children to provide a range of personal information, including full name, email address, and other online contact information, without obtaining prior parental consent, as required by the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act," a statement said.
In the form of push notifications, which required online contact information, the app's use of technologies such as unique device identifiers (UDIDs) allowed companies to send customized messages to individual children, which according to the advocacy group is considered personal information under the COPPA rules.
Earlier today, the Center for Digital Democracy and Common Sense Media released the results of a new survey on public attitudes toward children's online privacy. Conducted by Princeton Research Associates International (PSRAI) over a two-week period in November, the survey found overwhelming support for the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and polled over 2,000 adults.
The findings revealed strong support for several key proposed changes in the rules that would address a range of online business practices as well as basic principles of the law. Moreover, in the coming weeks, the Federal Trade Commission is expected to announce a number of updates to the COPPA regulations. Last year, changes to the rules were proposed by the FTC as it sought comments from a wide range of industry and public interest groups; however, its revised regulations are yet to be released.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman