Апреля 24, 2018

Thousands of child apps and games potentially violate US data sharing law

17 Апреля 2018, 05:56 | Marlene Myers

Fake messaging apps could compromise your Android phone

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But these apps may be in violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) as they did not acquire parental consent, thus violating a federal law which limits data collection on children under 13.

The study finds thousands of apps targeted to children were sending data to advertisers, some including Global Positioning System location.

"However, the FTC has just been through [an] earthquake-like wake up call, given the revelations that Facebook allowed companies like Cambridge Analytica to seize data on 87 million people ..."

Almost one in five of the most popular free children- and family-oriented apps in the Google Play store improperly collects "identifiers or other personally identifiable information", a study has found.

Research has revealed that the apps were not only collecting phone numbers, emails and location data (5 percent), but they were also sharing sensitive information with third-parties (19 percent) which was specifically forbidden to prevent tracking and behavioral advertising.

Some 256 (4.4%) were found to collect geolocation data, 107 shared the device owner's email address and 10 even shared the user's phone number.

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The study looked at 5,855 apps targeted at children, which had each been downloaded an average of 750,000 times, the researchers said.

We believe that this work illustrates the utility of our automated app analysis testbed which, with further development, will have impact on multiple stakeholders.

"This is an incredibly important study that clears demonstrates that many apps for children are violating Coppa at a massive scale", said Josh Golin, executive director of the Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood.

For instance, a search of popular messaging app Telegram on the Play Store yielded many results, with a lot of them using similar designs and colour schemes as that of the real one. Some of the apps named in the report include KidzInMind, TabTale's "Pop Girls-High School Band", and Fun Kid Racing. Google's AIY kit will serve as a great platform for developers who are starting to get into building apps, games or services on AI machine learning side of the spectrum. The Google Play online store was apparently fooled to host apps that contain malicious software intended for state-type surveillance.

Google has yet to comment on the latest issues, however it is taking more initiative on controlling its Play Store, which will hopefully ensure the safety of children moving forward. Then, there were 2,281 apps transmitting Android Advertising IDs that Google directs the developers and SDKs to use as the sole persistent method of ad tracking.

To make matters worse, 40 per cent of the app studies shared personal information across the internet without the proper security measures.

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