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Nickelodeon resubmitting 'SpongeBob' game to App Store, says 'no violation' of privacy occured

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Earlier this week Nickelodeon pulled its SpongeBob Diner Dash application from the iOS App Store after privacy complaints — but the company is now saying it was unfairly accused and will be resubmitting the game. The Hill reports that Nickelodeon tested the app after the Center for Digital Democracy complained that it was collecting emails, names, and other identifying information from children without notifying parents — a violation of the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA). Nickelodeon found that not to be the case in its own testing, however. While a prompt in the app did allow users to provide their email address for a newsletter, Nickelodeon says that the prompt was part of the template used to create the app, and that no emails entered were ever collected.

"After an initial investigation and thorough review of our SpongeBob Diner Dash mobile application, we can confirm that no names, email addresses or other personally identifiable information were collected," the company said in statement, "and, therefore, we believe that no violation of COPPA occurred."

Nickelodeon also claimed that the use of Apple's unique device identifiers (UDIDs) — which are used with the push notifications in the app — were also within COPPA guidelines. Laura Moy, the attorney that prepared the CDD's complaint, disagreed, telling The Hill that violations still occur due to the use of the identifier tokens.

Nickelodeon gave no timeframe for when it expects the game to return to the App Store, but in a statement said that "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." Those update guidelines, which now require parental consent for the collection of geolocation data amongst other information, were revealed this morning.

The Verge
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