Android Apps Violating Children Online Privacy Protection Act

17 April, 2018, 20:40 | Author: Bennie Parsons
  • Over 3300 Android Apps on Google Play Store Are Improperly Tracking Kids

"Each of the 5,855 apps under review was installed more than 750,000 times, on average, according to the study, which was called "'Won't Somebody Think of the Children?' Examining COPPA Compliance at Scale.'" Some of the apps in question included Disney's "Where's My Water?", Gameloft's "Minion Rush" and Duolingo, a language learning app.

MOBILETRACKING is creepy enough, but a study has found that some 3,300 Android apps have been potentially illegally tracking kids.

For example, developers creating apps that span wide audiences might legitimately collect data from adults but struggle to avoid harvesting children's data. And since many of these apps have those violations buried deep in their code or via third-party code the app buys and uses, it may well be impossible for the average parent to determine which apps are safe. "We also observed that 73% of the tested applications transmitted sensitive data over the internet", the study found.

Geolocation data not only reveals where individuals live, but can also help infer socioeconomic scenarios, everyday habits, and health conditions, among others. Google's emphasis remains on its consumer Maps app, he said, while Mapbox exclusively focuses on developer tools. "We observed that 81 of their 82 apps that we tested shared Global Positioning System coordinates with advertisers", the researchers stated in the report.

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". Developers can use our testing infrastructure to assess how well their apps comply with their privacy policies and regulatory requirements, prior to releasing those apps to the public.


In a statement, Unlockd said it had applied for an injunction in the UK High Court to prevent Google from removing its apps and disabling AdMob generated advertising content.

In 2014, Google had to cough up $19 million to settle an informal complains to US Federal Trade Commission for allowing apps that practice unfair in-app policies. In 2016, the ad network InMobi was fined Dollars 1 million for gathering the location of users - including children - without proper consent.

Critics of Google's app platform say that the company and other players in the digital-advertising business, such as Facebook, have profited greatly from advances in data-tracking technology, even as regulators have failed to keep up with the resulting privacy intrusions.

This study could monitor when data is first accessed and where it is sent, according to the published report.

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