More than 3000 apps on Google Play tracking children, says study

More than 3000 apps on Google Play tracking children, says study

More than 3000 apps on Google Play tracking children, says study

Data collection has always been a hot topic, and the practices of various tech companies in this regard has been further highlighted by the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data breach.

South Korea's Fair Trade Commission has reportedly begun investigating Google Play over allegations that the U.S. tech giant's mobile app marketplace abused its market position by pressuring local game publishers to initially launch new mobile games through Google Play only.

The Independent reported that more than 3,300 Android apps on Google Play have been improperly collecting data on children.

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"This is a market failure", says Serge Egelman, one of the co-authors of the study, and the director of usable security and privacy research at the International Computer Science Institute at the University of California at Berkeley.

According to the "Korea Mobile Internet Industry Report 2017" published last month by the Korea Mobile Internet Business Association, Google Play accounted for around 60.7 percent of mobile app content sales past year, with most of the revenue coming from mobile games. "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", the study states. They found out that 5% of these apps collect location and contact data without obtaining parental consent. The law in question is the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which was enacted in 1998 and brought into effect in 2000.

In addition, 92 percent of the 1,280 apps that were linked to Facebook did not properly use the social network's system to restrict users under 13 years old.

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While the findings of the study reveal a concerning trend among Android app for kids, the researchers claim that they are not showing "definitive legal liability".

Furthermore, 39% of the apps studied violate Google's terms of services when it comes to sharing of persistent identifiers across platforms, apps, or devices.

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