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Privacy group fires complaint against developer of mobile games for kids

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A privacy watchdog group today filed a complaint against the developer of the kids’ mobile game Mobbles, claiming the title gleans personal information without informing parents or asking for consent. Mobbles “takes unfair advantage of children’s developmental vulnerabilities,” a privacy advocate said in a prepared statement, “and even potentially threatens their personal safety.”

The filing comes after yesterday’s report from the Federal Trade Commission that found hundreds of Android and iOS apps surreptitiously share data with ad networks or analytics companies. The FTC said little progress had been made on the privacy front since an initial survey six months ago, and it urged the mobile industry to develop best practices to protect user privacy.

Privacy concerns have long been an issue in mobile, of course, and groups like the Mobile Marketing Association have largely done an effective job of keeping content providers, advertisers and other players in line. But that was much easier when carriers ruled the world and only a handful of ad networks played in mobile. Mobile is now a massive industry where hundreds of thousands of apps can be downloaded by consumers within a few seconds, often without any real vetting. If the FTC and other regulators truly want to clamp down on privacy concerns, I think it will have be regulators and policy-makers leading the charge — not the mobile industry itself.