Android Apps Are Tracking Kids Unlawfully, Latest Study Says

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Research from the International Computer Science Institute reveals that there are thousands of Android apps that are tracking children these days and of course they do it unlawfully.

So, kids’ apps seem to be doing more than just keeping the little ones busy.

Researchers reached the conclusion that most popular free kids’ Android apps are tracking data on them while violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, which is a federal law that regulates data collection from users under 13 years old.

The study’s results will be detailed during the Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium in July.

Here’s what the study found

This latest study analyzed 5.855 apps targeted at kids, and each of them had an average download of 750,000 times. Researchers used a Nexus 5X phone, and they downloaded top apps during November 2017 and March 2018. They ran the apps for about ten minutes in order to simulate an actual user.

The study found that thousands of child-targeted apps are collecting information from the device that included the GPS location and personal data as well. This is definitely bound to concern parents who will require an expert’s level of tech knowledge to figure all of this out by themselves.

“They’re not expected to reverse-engineer applications in order to make a decision whether or not it’s safe for their kids to use,” said Serge Egelman, the paper’s co-author.

“If a robot is able to click through their consent screen which resulted in carrying data, obviously a small child that doesn’t know what they’re reading is likely to do the same,” Egelman continued.

More than 1,000 of the apps that have been analyzed collected personal data, even though Google’s terms of service prohibit such trackers in kid-targeted apps.

The study also analyzed how the apps are transferring the data and found out that 40% of the apps failed to do it securely.

Rada attended the courses in the Faculty of Letters, Romanian-English section, and finished the Faculty of Theatre and Television, Theatrical Journalism section, both within the framework of Babeş-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca. Up till now, she reviewed books, movies, and theatre-plays, enjoying subjects from the cultural niche. Her experience in writing also intersects the IT niche, given the fact that she worked as a content editor for firms that produce software for mobile devices. She is collaborating with online advertising agencies, writing articles for several websites and blogs.


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