A recent survey on Android apps in Google Play Store revealed there are more than 5800 apps in the play store that are specifically tailored for families, out of those apps 28% of them have been tracking the sensitive data of children.

COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) is a Federal Law that protects the children’s privacy online by limiting the data collected on the children below the age of 13.

According to the survey, none of these apps are asking the parents consent before collecting the data of their children. Of the apps that were surveyed 256 had collected Geo-Location Data, 107 are collecting owners email address and 10 uploaded their phone numbers to servers. The concerning thing is that 1,100 apps are sharing persistent identifiers which can be used for behavioural advertising techniques that are banned for use on children according to COPPA. There are 2,281 apps in PlayStore that have transmitted advertising IDs which is generally used for ad tracking using their app histories which violates Google’s privacy policy.

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 COPPA

It is also noted that some of the apps are collecting the data that actually violate COPPA. There are a sheer number of apps that are coming into the PlayStore which suggests that most of the apps won’t be going through a manual review. It may be aware that some of the software developers may not be aware of the COPPA Law, The activists have been pressuring the Federal Trade Commission to take action against a number of big corporations they allege are illegally directing ad-targeting tools at children.

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Source: Gizmodo

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