Apps Are Illegally Stealing Children's Privacy Data

Apps Are Illegally Stealing Children's Privacy Data

According to the researchers, numerous apps might be breaching the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act in the USA, which is supposed to regulate how mobile apps, games and websites are allowed to collect and process personal information from children under the age of 13. "Overall, roughly 57% of the 5,855 child-directed apps that we analysed are potentially violating Coppa".

"However, the FTC has just been through [an] earthquake-like wake up call, given the revelations that Facebook allowed companies like Cambridge Analytica to seize data on 87 million people ..." The study found that many of these apps targeted to kids were violating that law.

A team of university researchers and computer scientists, with the help of an automatic assessment of the privacy behaviors of the Android apps, arrived at a conclusion that of the 5,855 apps in the Play Store's Designed for Families program, almost 28 percent accessed the sensitive information protected by Android permissions and almost 73 percent of the applications transmitted the sensitive information over the internet.

One app developer that the team cited as "particularly egregious" is Tiny Lab, which had 82 apps tested - 81 of which "shared Global Positioning System coordinates with advertisers". Given the dominance of the Google App platform and the interest young children have in apps, it's not practical for a parent to have to spend time trying to decipher the complex connections that drive the ad supported App industry.

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That kid's app might be doing more than keeping your children busy, according to a new worldwide study. Kids who download game or language apps face an even tougher time understanding what they are giving up in exchange. Also, none of these Android apps attained verifiable parental consent as required under the law since their automated tool was enough to activate them. Sadly, reports indicate misuse of the collected data and thus causes a line of disagreements within parties of the Google Play system.

Further, 19 percent of children's apps collect some kind of identifier "or other personally identifiable information" using software development kits (SDKs) whose terms of service say these programs shouldn't be used in children's apps. We've asked Google for comment on the findings as well.

This not only includes name, usernames, and emails, but also geo-location data, IP addresses, and other identity markers that could be used to track children online and link them to advertising IDs. Developers can use our testing infrastructure to assess how well their apps comply with their privacy policies and regulatory requirements, prior to releasing those apps to the public.

The report states that a whopping 40 percent of the selected applications accessed and shared this data without properly implementing security measures to protect their users.

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