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Study reveals that thousands of Android apps violate child privacy

16 April 2018 3

There are thousands of apps on the Google Play Store but how many of them actually adhere to privacy laws? Well, privacy in recent times has become quite a joke. We’ve seen how Facebook has been in the midst of controversy over data privacy. A research study has attempted to identify how many apps on the Play Store are actually in violation of child privacy. The study has been conducted by researchers affiliated with the International Computer Science Institute. The results are pretty shocking and quite unexpected!

Data leaks and privacy concerns are terrible but its even worse when children are involved. The researchers developed a tool which would automatically analyze popular Android apps which are supposedly family friendly. A total of 5,855 apps were analyzed and the results revealed the sad state of affairs.

– 5 percent of the apps included in the study collected users’ location or contact data (such as phone number or email address) without first obtaining parental consent.
– 1,100 of the apps (19 percent of those studied) shared sensitive information with third-party services whose terms of service explicitly prohibited their use in children’s apps, likely because they are engaged in behavioral advertising.
– 2,281 apps (39 percent of those studied) appeared to violate Google’s terms of service regarding the sharing of persistent identifiers (which provide unique information that can be associated with an individual over time and across platforms, apps, or devices.)
– 40 percent of the apps in the study shared users’ personal information via the internet without applying reasonable security measures.
– Of the 1,280 apps included in the study that integrated with Facebook, 92 percent did not correctly utilize the company’s configuration options in order to protect users under 13.

While these numbers do look bad what makes it worse is that the COPPA may not be powerful enough to address these violations. Given the limitations imposed on the COPPA, it becomes easy for app developers and companies to get away with such violations. This study is a real eye-opener to the sad state of things when it comes to various applications.


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