Thousands of Android apps are tracking kids

A team of university researchers and scientists using an "automatic evaluation of the privacy behaviors of Android apps", diagnosed 5855 apps in the Play Store that are designed for families and children.

Only a week after it was alleged that YouTube violated United States laws that protect children's online privacy, a study has claimed a majority of popular free children's apps in the Google Play Store are also in breach of these rules. 3,337 of those apps were found to be engaging in improper collection, with 281 of them bagging contact and/or location info without asking for parental approval. For example, third parties were able to access user info "for restricted purposes" in 1,100 apps and 2,281 seemingly shared similar info to the Android Advertising ID.

To make matters worse, 40 per cent of the app studies shared personal information across the internet without the proper security measures.

Researchers affiliated with the International Computer Science Institute authored a study titled 'Won't Somebody Think of the Children?' Examining COPPA Compliance at Scale and published their findings of an automated testing process in the Proceedings on Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium.

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Part of the potential violations at hand include the nugget that 92 percent of the 1,280 apps that plug into Facebook's API may be using it for activities prohibited by COPPA.

Then there's the problem with ensuring children are honest with how old they are when accessing apps and that they do indeed seek the permission of parents when prompted.

Further, 19 percent of children's apps collect some kind of identifier "or other personally identifiable information" using software development kits (SDKs) whose terms of service say these programs shouldn't be used in children's apps. In a recent Android developers blog post, the search engine giant has posted a preview of the Android version's new UI, although some people were quick to notice the new navigation bar that performs a similar function with an iPhone X gesture.

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