Saturday, July 02, 2011

OpenFeint sued in ND Cal over privacy concerns

A lawsuit filed in ND Cal asserts OpenFeint (and Japanese parent Gree International) violated federal anti-hacking and electronic-privacy laws by using unique phone identifiers to keep track of users. The plaintiffs are Texas residents Matthew Hines and Alexander Hernandez and Wisconsin resident Jennifer Aguirre.

A story by online media daily noted:

The allegations against the company appear to stem from a recent research by New Zealand security expert Aldo Cortesi, who reported that it's possible to figure out the names of some iPhone and iPad users who are on Facebook, and who also have applications powered by OpenFeint.

The gaming network, which has 75 million users, reportedly stopped leaking this data after hearing from Cortesi.

The consumers who are suing allege that OpenFeint linked users' unique device identifiers to Facebook and Twitter profiles, as well as to GPS coordinates: "OpenFeint then used analytics software to collect, use and disclose device data to third parties."

The consumers also say OpenFeint didn't notify them of "covert activities within their mobile devices" and "covert tracking activities by application developers and application developer's affiliates." They add that OpenFeint targets children by offering free apps including "storybook tales, friendly animals, and child-like game scenarios."

Within an article at

The Wall Street Journal found in a study last year that 56 of 101 popular smartphone apps passed one or more unique device IDs to other companies. That included three apps that passed device IDs to OpenFeint.

In May, researcher Aldo Cortesi found that OpenFeint had tied the IDs to users’ locations and Facebook profiles and then made the combined data available to outsiders via its tools for developers. OpenFeint later fixed the Facebook and location problems.


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