Android Apps Found to Improperly Track Kids

17 April, 2018, 19:01 | Author: Becky Perry
  • iPhone X-like gestures may be coming to Android P

The Facebook Cambridge Analytica fiasco has apparently opened a pandora box. According to the recent survey by researchers in a United States university, children's online activities were being tracked by Android apps on Google Play store against the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

But recent research has identified thousands of apps on the Google Play Store that could be in violation of COPPA, all of which have been certified as COPPA-compliant by Google. The team found its results with an automatic test that detects how data is handled in Android apps.

Moreover, the app weights around 3MB (2.4MB to be precise) and you can download it from the link given below.

What is even more surprising is the fact that approximately 400 apps were found recording either device information or geolocation data or email address of device owners or phone numbers.

The study finds thousands of apps targeted to children were sending data to advertisers, some including Global Positioning System location. Ad blocker apps will allow users to block ads and opt-out of social media marketing systems. The method directly violates Google policy as well. They added that it would not be hard for Google to augment their research to detect the apps and the developers that may be violating child privacy laws. "Thus, industry self-regulation appears to be ineffective", the researchers wrote. The report also details that Google compiled the data from Android devices that accessed its Play Store during a 7-day period ending April 16, 2018.

Now you can earn money via Facebook exposing data abuse
Other companies, including Twitter (NYSE: TWTR ), Pinterest and LinkedIn (NASDAQ: MSFT ) have similar setups, Facebook says. Facebook is trying to demystify the ways in which it tracks people when they aren't directly using the website or app.

But that doesn't bail out Google in any way.

Since the researchers didn't have the same access to iOS data, it isn't clear if the issue is as widespread on Apple's mobile platform.

So far this feature is only in the testing phase, and it wouldn't be the first time Google tested something that was pulled before the full stable release. The researchers also said that almost half the apps fail to always use standard security measures to transmit sensitive data over the web, suggesting a breach of reasonable data security measures mandated by COPPA. In 2017, the head of the Department of Health's National Data Guardian (NDG) criticised Google for sharing patient data. It also appears many of these apps are the equivalent of a auto cobbled together with spare parts lying around; developers just find code that solves the problem, bolt it onto their app, and ignore the giant booklet of warnings that comes with it.

Google Play has had some users already skeptical of the use of their data for quite some time, especially in regards to the use of location and other such sensitive information.


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