Study Finds Thousands of Android Apps Tracking Children

Study Finds Thousands of Android Apps Tracking Children

Researchers have discovered over 3,000 Android apps for kids on the Google Play Store that improperly collect data, which should raise an alarm for parents around the world.

The study's authors claim that none of the apps in question attained "verifiable parental consent" for accessing or sharing this private information, which constitutes a violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) in the US.

South Korea's Fair Trade Commission has reportedly begun investigating Google Play over allegations that the United States tech giant's mobile app marketplace abused its market position by pressuring local game publishers to initially launch new mobile games through Google Play only.

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. All told, 40 percent of apps included in the research had passed on info without taking "reasonable" security measures. A whopping 92 percent of Facebook-linked apps failed to hinder use by children under the age of 13.

Other crucial discoveries that were made under the study include 281 apps that collected the location or contact data of children without asking for permission from parents, and 1,100 apps that shared persistent identifying information that can be used for behavioral advertising methods that are banned to be used on children.

What Can Google Do About It?

(NATIONAL) – A website that focuses on tech oriented issues, BGR.com is reporting that researchers affiliated with the International Computer Science Institute (ICSI) have produced a study - “‘Wont Somebody Think of the Children?

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. Google, however, will have to mount a gargantuan effort to solve the problem.

As per the reports, the huge number of apps flooding into the Play Store (nearly 2,700 per day) implies that many may not be undergoing a manual review.

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