Seven researchers analysed almost 6,000 apps for children and found that majority of them on Google Play Store are tracking data on kids in violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, which regulates data collection from users who are under 13 years old. In particular, they were curious about how apps aimed at kids comply with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which strictly controls what information can be collected from children.
A study conducted by University researchers and scientists highlights that 73% of Android apps, designed for Families program, transmit sensitive data over the internet. The researchers also said that almost half the apps fail to always use standard security measures to transmit sensitive data over the web, suggesting a breach of reasonable data security measures mandated by COPPA.
Many of the SDKs used by the apps in question do offer COPPA-friendly configuration options to disable tracking and behavioral advertising, the researchers wrote in their report.
Worse, researchers point out that around a fifth of all the tested apps used an SDK that specifically prohibited developers from using its library in child-directed apps, due to the nature of its data collection. Duolingo sends information to third parties, but claims that those parties are merely using it for bug fixing and app crashes, notes SlashGear.
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.
Google should be more active in the vetting process for COPPA compliance.
"One particularly egregious example is app developer TinyLab".
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In 2014, Google had to cough up $19 million to settle an informal complains to US Federal Trade Commission for allowing apps that practice unfair in-app policies. They found that few apps are actually certified under Safe Harbor and of those that are "potential violations are prevalent".
There is hope, however.
This study could monitor when data is first accessed and where it is sent, according to the published report.
It added: "Unlockd's legal counsel has confidence that the threats made by Google to withdraw access and the supply of services in respect of Google Play and AdMob represent an abuse of its dominant position and breach of competition rules".
Egelman said, "If a robot can click-through their consent screen, which caused the sharing of data, children that do not understand what they are agreeing to can do the same". I've already seen tutorials ...