CDD Files Complaint Against Mobile App Gamer

Popular Kids App Company Temporarily Takes Game Offline in Wake of Reports of Complaints

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."