Child’s play: Class action may finally reform mobile apps

The Mobile Gaming Ecosystem is largely unpoliced, but recent US action may pave the way for similar court cases elsewhere. By Abigail Dubiniecki of nNovation LLP.

On 21 April, Judge James Donato, of the US District Court for Northern California, approved a whopping 16 final settlements in three related class action lawsuits that may change the way publishers monetize mobile gaming apps that are popular with children while choking off a significant data stream that feeds digital ad networks.

The trio of cases – McDonald v. Kiloo A/S, Case No. 3:17-4344-JD; Rushing v. The Walt Disney Company, Case No. 3:17-4419-JD; Rushing v. ViacomCBS Inc., Case No. 3:17-4492-JD(1) – were brought by parents who alleged the game publishers and their advertising partners illegally tracked or allowed their children to be surreptitiously tracked using trackers and software development kits (SDKs) embedded in games popular with children, unbeknownst to parents and without their consent. The vast amounts of children’s data thus exfiltrated was then used to create profiles, track activity across apps and the web, target them with ads, and share their data across the broader mobile adtech ecosystem.

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