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Tracking Children – Android Apps

I’ve always described Android as a privacy dumpster fire… and this has been backed up by study of study, breach after breach.  A new report has shown just how bad it is indicated that hundreds of apps available through the official Google Play Store are improperly tracking children.

tracking children android apps

…the Google Play store isn’t…

Apps Found To Be Tracking Children

Though Google has rules in place to prohibit such things, they don’t vet apps anywhere like Apple does. As a result, a great many apps available violate privacy, security and a plethora of other rules and continue to be provided through Google Play. A research group using automated software found out of 5,855 family and children orientated apps, a whopping 3,337 were improperly collecting data on its users – children. This potentially violates US’ COPPA law which limits data collection for kids under 13. The stats were pretty staggering…

  • 281 of them collected contact or location data without asking for a parent’s permission.
  • 1,100 shared persistent identifying info with third parties for restricted purposes.
  • 2,281 of them violate Google terms of service forbidding apps from sharing those identifiers to the same destination as the Android Advertising ID.
  • Approximately 40% of apps transmitted info without using reasonable security measures.
  • Approximately 92 percent of the 1,280 apps with Facebook tie-ins weren’t properly using the social network’s code flags to limit under-13 use.

To be fair, a few of these violations could not even be realized. COPPA, like any law, is highly convoluted and it’s up to authorities to act and see if any of these violations are the seat of something sinister. But in the meantime, let’s not give our kids access to so many free apps on a swiss cheese of privacy platform like Android m’kay?

FULL DISCLOSURE: They have NOT done a study on iOS, and if they find as many violations, I’ll eat my hat.

HILARIOUS FACT: I choose the graphic above without first seeing the actual research paper you can read here.

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Ryszard (Rick) Gold, From Calgary, Alberta, Canada has over 20 years of experience working with Apple products in a technical capacity. Passionate about technology in general, his natural troubleshooting abilities, curiosity and appreciation of good design lead him into working exclusively with Apple Computer products.
Ryszard Gold
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