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
148 months ago
Why is anybody surprised that there turned out to be something fishy about this app?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
caligomez Avatar
148 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
148 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
148 months ago
Those sneaky bastards. Well deserved to investigate this.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
GoCubsGo Avatar
148 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
148 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 18 Siri Integrated Feature

iOS 18 Will Add These New Features to Your iPhone

Friday April 12, 2024 11:11 am PDT by
iOS 18 is expected to be the "biggest" update in the iPhone's history. Below, we recap rumored features and changes for the iPhone. iOS 18 is rumored to include new generative AI features for Siri and many apps, and Apple plans to add RCS support to the Messages app for an improved texting experience between iPhones and Android devices. The update is also expected to introduce a more...
iGBA Feature

Game Boy Emulator for iPhone Now Available in App Store Following Rule Change [Removed]

Sunday April 14, 2024 8:06 am PDT by
A week after Apple updated its App Review Guidelines to permit retro game console emulators, a Game Boy emulator for the iPhone called iGBA has appeared in the App Store worldwide. The emulator is already one of the top free apps on the App Store charts. It was not entirely clear if Apple would allow emulators to work with all and any games, but iGBA is able to load any Game Boy ROMs that...
top stories 13apr2024

Top Stories: M4 Mac Roadmap Leaked, New iPads in Second Week of May, and More

Saturday April 13, 2024 6:00 am PDT by
Apple's hardware roadmap was in the news this week, with things hopefully firming up for a launch of updated iPad Pro and iPad Air models next month while we look ahead to the other iPad models and a full lineup of M4-based Macs arriving starting later this year. We also heard some fresh rumors about iOS 18, due to be unveiled at WWDC in a couple of months, while we took a look at how things ...
new best buy blue

Best Buy Opens Up Sitewide Sale With Record Low Prices on M3 MacBook Air, iPad, and Much More

Saturday April 13, 2024 7:41 am PDT by
Best Buy this weekend has a big sale on Apple MacBooks and iPads, including new all-time low prices on the M3 MacBook Air, alongside the best prices we've ever seen on MacBook Pro, iPad, and more. Some of these deals require a My Best Buy Plus or My Best Buy Total membership, which start at $49.99/year. In addition to exclusive access to select discounts, you'll get free 2-day shipping, an...
iGBA Feature

Apple Removes Game Boy Emulator iGBA From App Store Due to Spam and Copyright Violations

Sunday April 14, 2024 9:22 pm PDT by
Apple today said it removed Game Boy emulator iGBA from the App Store for violating the company's App Review Guidelines related to spam (section 4.3) and copyright (section 5.2), but it did not provide any specific details. iGBA was a copycat version of developer Riley Testut's open-source GBA4iOS app. The emulator rose to the top of the App Store charts following its release this weekend,...
iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature

Apple's First AI Features in iOS 18 Reportedly Won't Use Cloud Servers

Sunday April 14, 2024 9:52 am PDT by
Apple's first set of new AI features planned for iOS 18 will not rely on cloud servers at all, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. "As the world awaits Apple's big AI unveiling on June 10, it looks like the initial wave of features will work entirely on device," said Gurman, in the Q&A section of his Power On newsletter today. "That means there's no cloud processing component to the...