Privacy Policies for Apps: This is how it’s done!

Google is currently taking action against apps violating the Play Store’s User Data Policy. As The Next Web reports, in most cases apps are missing the required privacy policy. Developers are prompted to resolve the issues by March 15, 2017. Otherwise, the company has announced it will limit the visibility of concerned apps in the […]

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Virtual currencies, eSports and social gaming: a fresh look at the boundar...

A small but increasing number of games are based on, or incorporate, mechanics that have an appearance of gambling.  For example, some social games consist of a gambling style game, such as roulette; some PC and console games may contain mini gambling style games that are a small ancillary element within that game, such as […]

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New Regulation for “Loot Boxes” in China – International Impact for all On...

Over the last few weeks, a new regulation initiative from China has globally caught the attention of the games community: The Chinese Ministry of Culture recently published a new regulation that imposes an obligation on publishers to disclose certain detailed information about in-game items which the gamer can receive or purchase in the game – […]

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Mobile Apps and Privacy Miniseries (3/5): Privacy by Design
December 9, 2014
In order to fulfil privacy law requirements, it is more than recommendable to pay special attention to a privacy-compliant design right from the start of the development process. The so called privacy by design approach is accompanied by privacy-friendly default settings (privacy by default); this approach is intended to ensure that the app can be offered without data protection deficiencies. The German authorities’ data protection guidelines for mobile apps focus heavily on such orgamnizational and technical aspects, and have a number of recommendations. Read more
Monetisation of Mobile Apps in Europe (and Beyond) – 2014 Round-Up
December 5, 2014
The free-to-play model for mobile games has seen major growth in recent years and continues to expand internationally. However, its proliferation has led to concern from consumer groups and regulators. Specific areas of concern have been unauthorised purchases being made by children and how such games are marketed. 2014 has seen a number of developments in this area – we look back at some of the key events in the EU and the United States. Read more
Mobile Apps and Privacy Miniseries (2/5): Privacy Policy and Consent
November 28, 2014
In part 2 of our miniseries on German and EU privacy law and German authorities’ guidelines for app developers and providers, we look at a core general principle of data protection law: The collection, processing and use of personal data are prohibited except to the extent covered by specific permission. This can be a statutory permission or the concerned data subject’s valid, informed consent. But there are some hoops to jump through… Read more
Game App: The Italian Competition Authority investigation of allegedly unfair commercial practices
November 24, 2014
On May 16th 2014, the AGCM, the Italian Competition Authority (“ICA”) has launched an investigation against Google, Apple, Amazon and other entertainment companies in order to verify whether their conducts concerning an APP advertised as “free” can be regarded as unfair commercial practices. The object of the probe is an app-based game for children for Apple’s iOS and Android devices, and available for purchase on Google’s Play, Amazon’s App Store and iTunes. Results are expected in early 2015 – and game operators should be watching closely. Read more
Mobile Apps & Privacy Miniseries (1/5): Application of EU Privacy Law
November 20, 2014
European privacy law is progressively becoming a challenge for developers and providers of mobile apps. In 2013, German data protection authorities began an in-depth review of data protection compliance on 60 randomly selected apps. The result: Most apps were not even close to compliant with German privacy law.

In response to this, the Düsseldorfer Kreis, an informal working group of several German data protection agencies, created a set of guidelines for app developers and providers. Our miniseries takes a closer look at the guidance and the impact of privacy law in the mobile sector. App developers and providers would do well to take the guidelines into account from the very beginning of the development process. Read more

France to make PEGI rating mandatory
November 14, 2014
The French parliament is currently discussing a draft bill that may make mandatory the use of PEGI ratings in video games. This proposition is included in the bill on the modernisation and the simplification of procedures in justice and internal affairs. The bill could bring to life an age rating mechanism that has been technically mandatory for quite some time but has so far not been implemented. Read more
Final Decision in Runes of Magic Case: German Federal Court of Justice Upholds Ban on In-Game Item Advertisement
October 28, 2014
The highest German civil court, the Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof; “BGH”), has rendered a final decision in the “Runes of Magic” case, confirming its earlier default judgment and ordering the operator of the client-based free-to-play online fantasy game to cease using certain language to advertise additional online content available for purchase.

More specifically, the contested wording included the sentence “Seize the advantageous opportunity and add that certain something to your armour & weapons”. Seized by a consumer watchdog organisation, the BGH considered the language a direct exhortation to children to purchase the items, which is prohibited by unfair commercial practices legislation.

The final written reasons for the decision (docket no.: I ZR 34/12) have now been provided, ending the lengthy litigation which started in 2009. While they address and attempt to resolve many of the most widely criticized shortcomings of the default judgment, they still leave readers puzzled in places. Is this a rogue case or the end of the free-to-play business model in Germany, as some commentators have speculated? We are seeing increased enforcement action in the wake of this decision, including from youth protection authorities. How should online games providers conduct themselves now? Read more

New VAT regime comes into force in the EU in January 2015
October 14, 2014
Changes in the Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No. 282/2011 of 15 March 2011 laying down implementing measures for Directive 2006/112/EC on the common system of value added tax (recast) will start affecting the games industry enormously. From the beginning of 2015, a new VAT regime will come into force. It concerns suppliers of games who use online services for their commercial exploitation and provide their services to end consumers (B2C) within the European Union (EU). The place of supply will change from “the establishment of the provider” to “the location of the end consumer”, and in consequence, suppliers need to face dealing with VAT regulations of all EU member states instead of just the one where they are domiciled. The new regulations and reporting procedure therefore now extend to suppliers within the EU the rules that had been applicable only to non-EU entrepreneurs until now, and will impact the bookkeeping of concerned companies. Read more
Temperatures rising in Europe for consumer claims
September 25, 2014