According to a new study published by researchers affiliated with the International Computer Science Institute, thousands of free apps available in the Google Play store are tracking the online activity of children in such ways which violate US privacy laws. It says Android Mobile Apps Improperly Track Children.
A team of university researchers and computer scientists revealed by using an automatic evaluation of the privacy behaviors of Android apps, that of 5,855 apps in the Play Store that is designed for Families program, 28 percent “accessed sensitive data protected by Android permissions” and 73 percent of the applications “transmitted sensitive data over the internet.
Researches Conclude Android Mobile Apps Improperly Track Children
About 40 percent of apps transmitted info without using “reasonable security measures,” and nearly all 1,280 apps with Facebook tie-ins were not properly using the social network’s code flags to limit under-13 use. It is also possible that they may not have realized they were using this info for law-breaking purposes.
The researchers said that :
We identified several concerning violations and trends: clear violations when apps share location or contact information without consent (4.8%), sharing of personal information without applying reasonable security measures (40.0%), potential noncompliance by sharing persistent identifiers with third parties for prohibited purposes (18.8%), and ignorance or disregard for contractual obligations aimed at protecting children’s privacy (39.0%). Overall, roughly 57% of the 5,855 child-directed apps that we analyzed are potentially violating COPP
It is possible that some of the apps were not collecting data in ways that violate COPPA, as this was automated methods, but the researchers contest that the number of apps with tracking functions indicated that non-compliance was widespread.
On other hand, activists from last few months are continuously pressuring the Federal Trade Commission to take action against a number of big corporations, who are illegally directing ad-targeting tools at children, including Disney and YouTube.