Published: Wed, April 18, 2018
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How 'Thousands' Of Android Apps Have Been Illegally Tracking Children

How 'Thousands' Of Android Apps Have Been Illegally Tracking Children

Research has revealed that the apps were not only collecting phone numbers, emails and location data (5 percent), but they were also sharing sensitive information with third-parties (19 percent) which was specifically forbidden to prevent tracking and behavioral advertising.

Suggesting that he only scanned free apps, Dormann said, "Paid apps have similar issues I'm sure but the problem is I've downloaded 1.8 million apps and even if they are only 99 cents apiece I'm not paying that much".

For example, developers creating apps that span wide audiences might legitimately collect data from adults but struggle to avoid harvesting children's data.

"Although we can not know the true number of children's apps in the Play Store, we believe that our results are representative, given that the apps that we examined represent the most popular free ones", the study, first spotted by Engadget, concluded. The US law protects children under 13 from intrusive data collection.

The reason for uncertainty regarding the exact numbers is because there is no concrete, widely agreed upon criteria for determining what apps are for children. CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before the US Congress where he was tasked with responding to over 500 questions about the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, data privacy among other topics. She was distributing an application titled Dardesh, which is a chat app that was available on Google's official Play Store for Android tools.


"Given the number of children's apps and a complex third-party ecosystem, analysis at scale is important to properly understand the privacy landscape", the study's conclusion added.

Among their findings, 28 percent of apps tested accessed sensitive data and 73 percent transmitted the data over the internet. Some of these apps include KidzInMind, TabTale's Pop Girls-High School Band, and Fun Kid Racing. According to COPPA, using the behavioural advertising techniques on children is prohibited in the US.

"If a robot is able to click through their consent screen which resulted in carrying data, obviously a small child that doesn't know what they're reading is likely to do the same", Egelman said.

This time Google is bidding farewell to the traditional Back, Home, and Recent Apps buttons.

Privacy experts have analyzed 5,855 child-directed Android apps and have found that more than half -57%- are potentially violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), a USA law protecting children's private data online.

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