Thousands of Android apps are tracking kids

Thousands of Android apps are tracking kids – Study

Thousands of Android apps are tracking kids – Study

We identified several concerning violations and trends: clear violations when apps share location or contact information without consent (4.8%), sharing of personal information without applying reasonable security measures (40.0%), potential noncompliance by sharing persistent identifiers with third parties for prohibited purposes (18.8%), and ignorance or disregard for contractual obligations aimed at protecting children's privacy (39.0%). The team found its results with an automatic test that detects how data is handled in Android apps.

According to a new study published by researchers affiliated with the International Computer Science Institute, thousands of free apps available in the Google Play store are tracking the online activity of children in such ways which violate United States privacy laws.

Based on a sample of 5,855 children's apps, the study - a collective effort by a number of organisations including the University of British Columbia and the University of California - found that 73% of apps transmitted sensitive data over the internet and that 28% accessed sensitive data protected by Android permissions. Further, the amount of at-risk data is likely higher, as the study notes that it didn't examine if TLS was used correctly, only checking if it was there or not.

"While many of these SDKs offer configuration options to respect COPPA by disabling tracking and behavioral advertising, our data suggest that a majority of apps either do not make use of these options or incorrectly propagate them across mediation SDKs". Popular examples include the language learning app Duolingo, the infinite running game Minion Rush and the Disney puzzle game Where's My Water?.