Friday, 25 May, 2018

Android Apps Found to Improperly Track Kids

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Eleanor Moreno | 18 April, 2018, 03:17

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.

According to the findings of a new study, 3,337 Android apps geared toward kids and families are improperly collecting data on children, and all of them are now available on the Google Play Store.

A study out of the University of California, Berkeley found that thousands of Android apps directed at children under 13, are potentially violating law USA law by collecting and sharing their data.

The report in question was conducted by the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley, Calif.


Seven researchers analysed almost 6,000 apps for children and found that the majority of them may be in violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, or Coppa. Overall, 5,855 children apps were analysed and around 57% of them i.e. 3337 family and child-oriented apps were violating COPPA as per survey reports.

Using VidMate is easy - just use the in-app navigator to look for videos, music or movies you want to download and then tap the button. "Examining COPPA Compliance at Scale", which analyzed thousands of android apps that keep kids busy.

The researchers also analysed whether apps with potential Coppa violations were part of the US Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) Safe Harbor programme, under which developers submit their apps for certification that they are Coppa-compliant. According to the laws of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), such sharing of information of children under the age of 13 is strictly prohibited. Of 5,855 free children's apps, 73 percent "transmitted sensitive data over the Internet".

An automated system was made use of researchers from the International Computer Science Institute to find out if the apps met with the regulations of the COPPA law meant to protect children. While the Android apps tracking kids' online activity are unethical in their own way, the bigger problem might be with COPPA, which is not stringent enough to check on these possible violations. 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. Unfortunately, it seems more than half of the apps directed at younger users are simply ignoring this particular law, which is actually criminal behavior. "The report is more evidence that Google is thumbing its nose at the on-line privacy legislation that we have".

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