dinerdashAs discovered by The Next Web, the Center for Digital Democracy today asked the FTC to investigate a children's game made by Nickelodeon and PlayFirst for deceptive marketing.

According to the advocacy group, SpongeBob Diner Dash violates the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. The game, which is aimed at kids, is an iPhone and iPad app that can be found in the "Kids Games" section of the App Store, and though it claims to comply with COPPA, the CDD says that it does not.

The objective of the game is for children to help SpongeBob "seat, serve, and satisfy all kinds of fishy customers in five colorful Bikini Bottom restaurants," run by the greedy, selfish Mr. Krabs from the show. SpongeBob Diner Dash is a "freemium" game, which can be initially downloaded for free, but is designed to encourage users to buy virtual "coins" that can be spent on items such as shoes that make SpongeBob walk faster, or a frying pan that makes the food cook faster. Children are also prompted to spend more money to buy upgraded versions of the game.

The SpongeBob Diner Dash game 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, as required by the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. Nor does the app provide an adequate description of the personal information it collects or how it is used.

The filing, which asks that the Federal Trade Commission investigate how the offending app collects data, comes just a week after the FTC released a report on the privacy practices of apps aimed at children. Following the report, the FTC began a non-public investigation to discover if app developers that produce games for children are violating Federal law.

SpongeBob Diner Dash and SpongeBob Diner Dash Deluxe, the offending games, have currently been removed from the U.S. App Store.

Top Rated Comments

Doctor Q Avatar
132 months ago
Why is anybody surprised that there turned out to be something fishy about this app?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
caligomez Avatar
132 months ago
If they think that's the only one, they should investigate the My Little Pony game I downloaded for my daughter. I was surprised at how much personal info and social networking is required to play this game (supposedly for kids). Seriously.. What 7 yr old has a Facebook account??
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Yvan256 Avatar
132 months ago
"FTC to Investigate SpongeBob"

That part of the title wins "Funniest news title of the week".
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DrFu79 Avatar
132 months ago
Those sneaky bastards. Well deserved to investigate this.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
GoCubsGo Avatar
132 months ago
If they think that's the only one, they should investigate the My Little Pony game I downloaded for my daughter. I was surprised at how much personal info and social networking is required to play this game (supposedly for kids). Seriously.. What 7 yr old has a Facebook account??
There is some penguin game a 5 year old played on my phone and she effortlessly managed to buy add-ons using her full name and home address. I'm glad these apps are being looked into. Why does any game need all of that info?
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Truffy Avatar
132 months ago
One of my school mates created one for her son, who won't be born for another two months. And yes she posts in 'his voice'. Barf
That is truly sad.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iOS 16

iOS 16.3 Now Available for Your iPhone With These 4 New Features

Friday February 3, 2023 1:13 pm PST by
Apple released iOS 16.3 in late January following nearly six weeks of beta testing. The software update is available for the iPhone 8 and newer, and while it is a relatively minor update, it still includes a handful of new features, changes, and bug fixes. Below, we've recapped new features in iOS 16.3, including support for physical security keys as a two-factor authentication option for...
HomePod 2 White and Midnight Feature Purple Blue

Apple Explains Why HomePod Was Released Again, Wi-Fi 4 Limitation, and More

Thursday February 2, 2023 7:57 am PST by
Apple's VP of hardware engineering Matthew Costello and product marketing employee Alice Chan recently spoke with Men's Journal and TechCrunch about the new second-generation HomePod in wide-ranging interviews about the smart speaker. Apple discontinued the original full-size HomePod in March 2021 after multiple reports indicated that sales of the speaker were lackluster, but Chan told Men's ...
Apple Silicon Teal Feature

The Next Big Apple Silicon Device May Not Be a Mac or iPad

Wednesday February 1, 2023 3:57 am PST by
Apple's next device with an Apple silicon chip may not be a Mac or an iPad, but rather an advanced external display, according to recent reports. The display, which is rumored to arrive this year, is expected to sit somewhere between the $1,599 Studio Display and the $4,999 Pro Display XDR – but more exact information about the device's positioning and price point is as yet unknown. While ...
iOS 16

Apple Preparing iOS 16.3.1 Update for iPhone as Wait for iOS 16.4 Beta Continues

Thursday February 2, 2023 6:41 am PST by
Apple appears to be preparing an iOS 16.3.1 update for the iPhone, based on evidence of the software in our website's analytics logs this week. It's unclear when the update will be released, but it will likely be available at some point in February. The same logs have accurately foreshadowed the release of several previous updates, including iOS 16.0.3 and iOS 16.1.1 most recently, so they...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

Five New iOS Features Coming to Your iPhone Later This Year

Tuesday January 31, 2023 11:58 am PST by
Apple has previously announced several upcoming iOS features that are expected to be added to the iPhone this year. Some of the features could be introduced with iOS 16.4, which should enter beta testing soon, while others will arrive later in the year. Below, we have recapped five new iOS features that are expected to launch in 2023, such as an Apple Pay Later financing option for purchases ...
Apple Pay Later Quick Green Feature

Apple Pay Later Launching 'Soon'

Thursday February 2, 2023 2:10 pm PST by
The Apple Pay Later service that Apple has in the works is set to launch "soon," Apple CEO Tim Cook told CNBC ahead of today's earnings call for the first fiscal quarter of 2023. Cook said that Apple employees are beta testing the Apple Pay Later feature, which will help Apple boost services revenue. "It will be launching soon," Cook said. Apple Pay Later was first previewed at the...
webkit vs chromium feature

Google Working on Browser for iOS That Would Break Apple's App Store Rules

Saturday February 4, 2023 1:30 am PST by
Google's Chromium developers are working on an experimental web browser for iOS that would break Apple's browser engine restrictions, The Register reports. The experimental browser, which is being actively pursued by developers, uses Google's Blink engine. Yet if Google attempted to release it on the App Store, it would not pass Apple's App Review process. Apple's App Store rules dictate...