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Android Apps Violating Children Online Privacy Protection Act

Over 3300 Android Apps on Google Play Store Are Improperly Tracking Kids

Researchers also found that almost half the apps are not taking "reasonable procedures to protect the confidentiality, security, and integrity of personal information collected from children".

Last year, Google announced plans to teach 10 million people in Africa online skills over the next five years to make them more employable.

An enquiry by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was necessitated to evaluate each app, the researchers said.

Google is taking a closer look at kid's apps in the Play Store in light of a new study claiming that more than half of the most popular ones are illegally tracking their young users.

All the apps analyzed in their study are part of the Google Play Store "Designed for Families" (DFF) program, a section of the Play Store that lists only apps that developers say are COPPA compliant, so at least in theory, these apps should not have had any violations.

Now that we're at least pretending to care about privacy in the wake of the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal, a growing number of folks seem to be realizing that such privacy violations are the norm, not the exception.

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The researchers affiliated with the International Computer Science Institute were able to access "sensitive data protected by Android permissions" from 28 percent of tested apps on Google's virtual shop.

"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. After testing 1.8 million apps, he found nearly 20,000 featured built-in passwords and keys, and even when a separate password store was used, user data was still open to attack from simple password crackers. "We observed that 81 of their 82 apps that we tested shared Global Positioning System coordinates with advertisers", the researchers stated in the report.

This will help ensure that your children aren't heading anywhere they shouldn't be. But they said "as our results show, there appears to not be any (or only limited) enforcement".

We contacted Google for comment but the search giant has yet to respond.

This not only includes name, usernames, and emails, but also geo-location data, IP addresses, and other identity markers that could be used to track children online and link them to advertising IDs.

"Worse, we observed that 19 percent of children's apps collect identifiers and other personally identifiable information via SDKs whose terms of service outright prohibit their use in child-directed apps", the report states.

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