Thursday, 19 Apr 2018
Tech

Thousands of Android apps collect kids’ data

According to one new international study , kids apps could do more than just keep them busy. Researchers at the International Computer Science Institute say that the majority of popular Android apps for kids track and collect their data, in particular violation the US Children’s Online Privacy Act (COPPA), a federal law that regulates the collection of data for children under 13 years of age. Tracking without consent The study was published on April 6 and will be presented at the Symposium on Privacy Technologies in July. It deals with 5,855 apps for children, which have each been downloaded an average of 750,000 times according to the researchers. Using a Nexus 5X phone, they downloaded the best apps for kids from November 2016 to March 2018, running them for about 10 minutes to simulate a real user. The study found that thousands of apps targeting kids were collecting data from the device, some including GPS tracking and personal information. This is a concern for parents, who would need the level of technical knowledge of an expert to understand it themselves, said Serge Egelman, co-author of the article. “They do not expect to have to reverse engineer applications to make a decision about how safe they are for children to use,” says Egelman. With applications, users often allow ad tracking in exchange for a free service. In principle, children’s applications are subject to other rules because of COPPA. These usually do not have the right to collect data without the explicit consent of the parents. The study found that many of these apps for children violated this law. In addition, more than 1,000 apps in the study collected personal information, although Google’s terms of use prohibit these tracking tools in apps for kids. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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