Attorney General Hector Balderas filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against Rovio Entertainment, the developer of the massively popular “Angry Birds” mobile gaming franchise. The suit, brought under the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (or “COPPA”) as well as state law, alleges that Rovio knowingly collects personal information from children under the age of 13 that play the Angry Birds games. Rovio then sends that information off to a constellation of third-party marketing companies that analyze, repackage, resell and otherwise use the information to sell targeted advertising to those children. 

“Parents must have the power to protect their children and determine who can have access to their child’s personal data, and New Mexican parents are being misled about what information is being collected from their children,” said Balderas. “This company must follow the law, and we will always hold companies accountable that risk the safety of children.” 

COPPA requires that developers of child-directed games obtain parental consent before collecting any personal information from players (information like device name, online activity history, and more). If a developer creates a game targeted at a broad audience, the developer still must take steps to ensure that it does not collect information from users under the age of 13. The State’s complaint alleges that Rovio has deliberately attempted to turn a blind eye to its enormous child audience, while simultaneously marketing the Angry Birds games to kids through movies, lunch boxes, kids meals, and more. The suit seeks an injunction prohibiting the company’s data collection practices, civil penalties, restitution, and other relief.