Android Apps Found to Improperly Track Kids

Terry Joseph
April 18, 2018

"There's no way for the average consumer to tell an app can do this", Egelman told NBC News.

Researchers at the University of California's International Computer Science Institute analyzed 5,855 of the most downloaded kids apps, concluding that a lot of them are "are potentially in violation" of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act 1998, or COPPA, a federal law making it illegal to collect personally identifiable data on children under 13.

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Among their findings, 28 percent of apps tested accessed sensitive data and 73 percent transmitted the data over the internet. Further, the amount of at-risk data is likely higher, as the study notes that it didn't examine if TLS was used correctly, only checking if it was there or not. "Protecting kids and families is a top priority, and our Designed for Families program requires developers to abide by specific requirements above and beyond our standard Google Play policies". Popular examples include the language learning app Duolingo, the infinite running game Minion Rush and the Disney puzzle game Where's My Water?.

"This analysis, from the authors' possess entrance, will not assert to spot any violation of COPPA". The federal law, 1998's Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), mandates privacy and consent requirements for website operators catering to children under 13. Instead, it could simply be a case of misunderstandings, as the study points out.

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When we asked Shackelford if iOS is better for kids than Android, he said "No platform is flawless, but parents should be aware that, on average, iOS does have advantages in both privacy and security over Android".

More than 1,000 children's apps collected identifying information from children using tracking software whose terms explicitly forbid their use for children's apps, the study found.

"Google has looked the other way while it surely could generate earnings from kids ' apps", Jeffrey Chester, the executive director of this Center for Digital Democracy, " informed the Washington Post.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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