Majority Of Android Kids Apps Are Illegally Collecting Children's Information
18 April, 2018, 03:35 | Author: Rosalie Gross
The study also found that 40 percent of the apps transmitted information without using proper security measures. The researchers affiliated with the International Computer Science Institute were able to access "sensitive data protected by Android permissions" from 28 percent of tested apps on Google's virtual shop.
COPPA applies to children under the age of 13 and requires verifiable consent from a parent or guardian before personal information can be collected about a child. Players are supposed to enter their birth date, and if they are under 13, the app doesn't collect any data, said Tiny Labs Productions CEO Jonas Abromaitis.
The apps targeted at children, were downloaded 750,000 times, on an average.
The research was published on April 6, and will be presented at the Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium in July.
The researchers are adamant that they're not showing "definitive legal liability".
"One observation generated from our analysis was that 37 apps-all developed by BabyBus, a company specialising in games for young children-did not access the location of the device through the standard Android permissions system".
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According to the findings of a new study, 3,337 Android apps geared toward kids and families are improperly collecting data on children, and all of them are now available on the Google Play Store.
Egelman said, "If a robot can click-through their consent screen, which caused the sharing of data, children that do not understand what they are agreeing to can do the same". 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".
Google and OEMs have been pushing its Android Oreo adoption aggressively ever since its launch.
Whatever the response, the findings illustrate the challenges that Google and officials face in enforcing COPPA and similar child-focused privacy laws.
Ron Amadeo from ArsTechnica was successful in spotting the changes in the design of the Android P, as Google removed the original screenshot that showed the layout of buttons.
It is possible that some of the apps were not collecting data in ways that violate COPPA, as this was automated methods, but the researchers contest that the number of apps with tracking functions indicated that non-compliance was widespread. The researcher suggested that leaving passwords in the apps is lax behavior on the part of the developer, but some are better than others in muddying the practice.
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