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>Storm8 and the Hazards of Gathering Personal Information from Gamers

>If not done properly, gathering personal data from gamers can bring game developers into the legal crosshairs. For instance, an iPhone game player recently sued game developer Storm8 for allegedly collecting phone numbers without permission from players who downloaded Storm8?ÇÖs games from the iTunes app store. The complaint alleges the game software automatically collects and transmits the iPhone telephone number of each player back to Storm8, in violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and California state laws.

Back in August, reports surfaced that Storm8’s games transmitted players’ wireless numbers back to the company’s servers. Storm8 responded that previous versions of the game software had a bug – that has since been fixed.

The lawsuit?ÇÖs objective appears to be an injunction barring Storm8 from collecting phone numbers in the future. However, even if Storm8 engaged in some unauthorized data gathering, the player still may not have a legally recognizable claim. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act would require that the player demonstrate how the unauthorized acquisition of the phone number caused damage. In addition, phone numbers alone are generally not considered protectable personally identifiable information under state laws (including California state law), unlike social security numbers or bank account numbers.

Gavin George is an associate in the Intellectual Property Practice Group of Haynes and Boone. His practice covers all areas of intellectual property law, with an emphasis on technology transactions and data privacy in the information age. His practice includes technology agreement drafting and negotiation, intellectual property analysis and due diligence, and consulting on evolving data protection and social media issues.

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