Thousands of popular children’s apps available for download on Google Play may be violating child privacy laws, according to a new study, drawing more attention to big tech’s data-collection efforts.
The study analyzed 5,855 of the most popular free children’s apps and found that a majority of them may be violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). According to the study, thousands of the tested apps collected the personal data of children under age 13 without a parent’s permission.
“This is a market failure,” Serge Egelman, a co-author of the study and the director of usable security and privacy research at the International Computer Science Institute at UC-Berkeley, told the Washington Post. “The rampant potential violations that we have uncovered points out basic enforcement work that needs to be done.”
The researchers found that potential privacy violations came in different forms. More than 1,100 children’s apps collect identifying information from kids using tracking software whose terms of service actually prohibit their use for children’s apps. Researchers also found that nearly half the apps are not taking “reasonable procedures to protect the confidentiality, security, and integrity of personal information collected from children.”
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