Google reveals 4.6% of all Android smartphones run Oreo

Forget The Notch Support, Android P Might Also Features The iPhone X Gestures – Screenshot

Privacy experts have analyzed 5,855 child-directed Android apps and have found that more than half -57%- are potentially violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), a USA law protecting children's private data online. YouTube, which Google also owns, was is the subject of a complaint filed earlier this month in which privacy groups said it was also violating COPPA.

Children's apps typically have different standards of tracking data.

Of course, there are only so many precautions that companies can take with regard to parental consent. Needless to say, those are red flags for any app targeted at kids. "Other data improperly collected included personal details like names, email addresses and phone numbers", The Independent report said.

It has become a little more alarming with a recent study showing that there is now a significant portion of family-oriented applications which target children among the demographic of users taking part in the abuse of the information that has unwittingly been shared through the app.

"Geolocation data not only reveals where individuals live, but could also enable inferences about their socioeconomic classes, everyday habits, and health conditions, among others", the study reads.


The study noted an egregious example from app developer TinyLab.

"One observation generated from our analysis was that 37 apps-all developed by BabyBus, a company specialising in games for young children-did not access the location of the device through the standard Android permissions system".

The app is now available on Android through the Google Play store as well as iTunes, thanks to popular demand from customers. In 2016, the ad network InMobi was fined Dollars 1 million for gathering the location of users - including children - without proper consent. Shackelford sees the study fitting into our present conversation about social media: This should be a wakeup call to these developers, along with platforms like Google and Facebook that host them. Developers can use our testing infrastructure to assess how well their apps comply with their privacy policies and regulatory requirements, prior to releasing those apps to the public.

However, they "do not mean to show definitive legal liability, nor do we offer legal advice", and rather just want to highlight "potential COPPA rule violations".

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