Thousands of popular Android apps are covertly tracking kids, study finds


Of the 5,855 apps, 281 collected contact or location data without parental permission and 1,100 unlawfully shared information with third parties.

Thousands of free, popular children's apps available on the Google Play Store could be violating United States child privacy laws, according to a new, large-scale study, highlighting growing criticism of Silicon Valley's data collection efforts.

"We identified several concerning violations and trends", wrote the authors of the Proceedings on Privacy Enhancing Technologies, led by researchers at the International Computer Science Institute at the University of California, Berkeley. But at the same time, the study found that almost a fifth of the apps it looked at were violating Google's terms of service, and the search giant appears not to have noticed.

Then there's the problem with ensuring children are honest with how old they are when accessing apps and that they do indeed seek the permission of parents when prompted. As stated by the analysis, thousands of the analyzed apps accumulated the private data of kids under age 13 with no father or mother's consent.

A recent study of Android apps conducted by researchers from the International Computer Science Institute shows that thousands of Android apps may be tracking the online activity of children as well as their personal information which is a violation of U.S. privacy laws. About 1100 apps shared persistent identifiers that could be utilized in behavioral advertising techniques, something that is debarred for use on kids by COPPA.

Even though most people have no idea what Google Play Services does on their Android powered devices, this app actually plays an important role in the Android ecosystem.

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Mary's, the parish school of Immaculate Conception, now has about 75 students in kindergarten through 5th grade. According to WCCO, children under the age of 10 can not be criminally charged.

Some of the apps in question included Disney's "Where's My Water?", Gameloft's "Minion Rush" and Duolingo, a language learning app.

Further, the reports also claim that long pressing the Home pill (bar) will open up the Google Assistant like always and there is no change in that feature.

Worse, researchers point out that around a fifth of all the tested apps used an SDK that specifically prohibited developers from using its library in child-directed apps, due to the nature of its data collection.

Smartphones their myriad apps can sometimes be intimidating.

Jeffrey Chester, executive director for the Center for Digital Democracy, said: "For years, the FTC has failed to address how both Google and Facebook routinely undermine consumer privacy". "The report is more evidence that Google is thumbing its nose at the on-line privacy legislation that we have".