OpenFeint Sued For Misappropriating Mobile Gamers' Data


Mobile gaming company OpenFeint and its parent company, GREE International, have been sued by three consumers for allegedly accessing their cell phones' unique device identifiers.

OpenFeint allegedly "compiled and misappropriated personal information" including consumers' gender, age, education level, geographic location and household income, Texas residents Matthew Hines and Alexander Hernandez and Wisconsin resident Jennifer Aguirre allege in a complaint filed this week in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California.

They argue that OpenFeint violated a federal computer fraud law and wiretap law as well as California state laws.

The case, a potential class-action lawsuit, marks the latest in a string of cases centered on device identifiers, or sequences of unique letters and numbers on some smartphones. Other lawsuits against Apple and a host of application developers, dating to last December, have been consolidated in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.



A representative for OpenFeint declined to comment. OpenFeint allows developers to add social elements to games, enabling users to import friends from Facebook or Twitter. OpenFeint also offers free games itself.

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."

Attorney Joseph Malley of Dallas is representing the consumers. Malley also has represented Web users in other privacy cases, including lawsuits against Facebook, NebuAd and Netflix.

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