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. It is definitely a big task for Google app store to check in a law-oriented manner by an automated tool for violation of any US Privacy policies.Consequently, the researchers have asked for clarification and answers from Google for the recently held survey.
Children's apps typically have different standards of tracking data. The study found that many of these apps targeted to kids were in violation of that.
Up to 235 apps were accessing the phone's Global Positioning System data - 184 of which transmitted the device's location to advertisers, according to the study.
He said: "Fake mobile apps imitate the look or functionality of legitimate apps, such as banking or popular game apps, to trick users into downloading them".
Fun Kid Racing alone has more than 10 million downloads, according to the app page. The CEO of Tiny Labs Productions, Jonas Abromaitis said that the researchers must have registered the age above 13 during the study.
Even though Google has taken steps to enforce COPPA compliance, the researchers say they have found lack of enforcement.
Among the apps, 4.8% had "clear violations when apps share location or contact information without consent", 40% shared personal information without applying reasonable security measures, 18% shared persistent identifiers with their parties for prohibited purposes such as ad targeting, and 39% showed " ignorance or disregard for contractual obligations aimed at protecting children's privacy". Of 5,855 free children's apps, 73 percent "transmitted sensitive data over the Internet".
The researchers found many were not complying with COPPA because they did not attain "verifiable parental consent". Shackleford advised being more proactive, "To really get ahead of the problem, though, parents should use software like FamilyTime to help keep a closer eye on the apps their kids are using, and make sure that private browsers and extensions-like DuckDuckGo and Privacy Badger-are the norm".
When we asked Shackelford if iOS is better for kids than Android, he said "No platform is flawless, but parents should be aware that, on average, iOS does have advantages in both privacy and security over Android". 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.
Google, in 2014, had allowed its users to reset their Android Advertising ID, which gave them better control on how online services track their data.