BBB National Programs Archive

Tiny Piece Changes App Ratings, Adds Privacy Policy to Website Following CARU Inquiry

New York, NY – June 1,  2017  – Tiny Piece, which operates the website and the mobile application Baby Pet Vet Doctor, has changed the way the app is presented in the app store and removed the children’s area from its website,” following an inquiry by the Children’s Advertising Review Unit.

CARU, an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation, monitors advertising directed to children in all media and across all platforms. CARU also monitors websites and online services for compliance with CARU’s Self-Regulatory Program for Children’s Advertising, which include guidelines on privacy protection, and the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). CARU is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

Upon its initial review, CARU determined that the website offered games that were organized by categories, including a children’s category. Visitors could register for an account at the website by providing an email address, date of birth and password. The site did not collect the email address of a parent and did not notify parents to obtain consent for the collection of information from children. The site did not post a privacy policy.

Once registered, a visitor could go to her profile page and set her account to public or private.  A profile included the user’s gender, birthdate and email address.

“Baby Pet Vet Doctor” is an animated easy to play game that features baby animals. The mobile app was located in the general games category of the Apple App Store, but described as a kid’s game rated 4+.  In the Google Play Store, the App was rated T for Teen but described as “the perfect game for children.”

During its initial review, CARU determined that pop-up advertisements for other apps created by the operator would appear throughout “Baby Pet Vet Doctor,” including ads for T-rated games that had inappropriate or disturbing subject matter such as, “Pregnant Mommy’s Surgery,” “My Ex-Boyfriend Comes Back” and “Plastic Surgery Simulator.”

CARU was concerned that the website collected personally identifiable information (PII) in the form of an email address from visitors who it knew to be under the age of 13 and did not have a privacy policy, and that the app exposed children to advertisements for inappropriate games and products.

Further, CARU was concerned that the app was rated and described inconsistently on app store platforms and that it appeared to be directed to children. Tiny Piece submitted evidence to support its position that its demographics for the game were adult women.

In response to CARU’s concerns, the company said the site would no longer collect children’s email addresses and that it would delete all the email addresses already collected from children.

The company said it has “updated the rating of the apps to 12+ for both Google Play and Apple Store and modified the descriptions” to better reflect its target audience.  The company also said it has “removed the ‘Kids’ category from our website and posted a privacy policy for the website.”

CARU noted in its decision that it was pleased the operator “agreed to work with CARU to bring its online services into compliance with CARU’s Guidelines and COPPA.”