Earlier in the week, Nickelodeon removed its SpongeBob Diner Dash mobile application from the iOS market after the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission accusing Nickelodeon’s parent company, Viacom, and game maker, PlayFirst, of deceptive marketing and violation of the Children’s Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Nickelodeon stated yesterday that after thoroughly investing the app, they can confirm that it does not siphon personal information from children without notifying parents and is therefore in compliance with COPPA.
The CDD’s complaint earlier in the week stated that Diner Dash “asks children to provide a wide range of personal information, including full name, email address, and other online contact information, without providing notice to parents or obtaining prior parental consent.”
Nickelodeon responded to the complaint by saying that while the app did provide users with an optional e-mail prompt, that prompt was a template function from the developer and was never operated in the app. It did not collect e-mail addresses or any other personal information, according to the company.
And, Nickelodeon added, the app does ask children for personal information such as their names but only to chart game progress. The information is stored internally on phones and is not passed along to any other servers.
“Nickelodeon has long prided itself as being a leader in COPPA compliance, and we are looking forward to maintaining that leadership position in the industry as the FTC unveils its updated guidelines,” the company concluded.
Its statement came the same day that the FTC announced new amendments to COPPA which will bring its regulations up to speed with current technologies. The FTC also released a report earlier this month stating its concerns regarding app makers failing to sufficiently notify parents of the ways mobile apps use information about children.
Although Diner Dash is not back on the market yet as it is still going back through the approval process with Apple, users who have already downloaded the game should still be able to play it.
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