SpongeBob Game Pulled By Apple Due To It Being Harmful To Kids
Turns out, it violated children's privacy rights.
SpongeBob Diner Dash, an iOS game that merges the popular Nickelodeon personality with the popular casual game, has been yanked from Apple's App Store after it was discovered that it violated children’s online privacy rights.
According to Cult of Mac, the game asked children for their names and email addresses without parental permission. This naturally raised a red flag among concerned parents, which in turn prompted an advocacy group to report the app to the Federal Trade Commission.
Even though no other personal information was asked, the game was in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (or COPPA) because it does not provide "notice to parents or obtain prior parental consent." COPPA was established in 1998 to specifically protect young people from online marketing.
A Nickelodeon spokesperson confirmed that the app had been temporarily pulled, though they're also claiming that it did comply with the aforementioned federal privacy rules.
Because COPPA only applies to those who are under the age of 13, one possible defense is for them to claim that the app was only intended for children that are above that age. Just as the makers of Mobbles, an Pokemon-esque game for iOS, used last week when their game was yanked for the same exact reason.