Study finds over 3300 Android apps improperly tracking kids

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COPPA, which stands for Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, regulates how apps and websites are allowed to collect and process data from children below 13 years old. But the authors contest that the sheer number of apps with tracking works indicated that non-compliance was widespread and that their sample was big enough to be representative of the wider app economy.

In other news, Facebook still tracks users even if they're logged out of the social network. The study found that many of these apps targeted to kids were in violation of that.

In accordance with a recent survey of the Google Play Store Android apps, the online activities of children may be getting tracked by the number of apps in ways which prove to be a violation of the U.S. privacy laws.

Researchers also found that 28% of the tested apps accessed sensitive data protected by Android permissions and 73% transmitted sensitive data over the Internet.

While the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) has yet to receive reports from users here of fake mobile apps containing malicious codes, the deputy director of its National Cyber Incident Response Centre, Mr Douglas Mun, urges users to exercise caution when downloading apps.

Further, the survey revealed that there were approximately 256 apps that collected sensitive geolocation data, 107 shared the device owner's email address and 10 of them shared phone numbers. It's not entirely clear developers, particularly those in other countries, were even aware of COPPA, and some of the configurations and standards are relatively obscure or left on by default.

That kid's app might be doing more than keeping your children busy, according to a new global study.

"Overall, roughly 57% of the 5,855 child-directed apps that we analyzed are potentially violating COPPA", privacy experts from multiple United States universities wrote in a research paper they plan to present this summer at the Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium (PETS) in Barcelona, Spain. Some of the apps named in the report include KidzInMind, TabTale's "Pop Girls-High School Band", and Fun Kid Racing.

"This study has just given the FTC hundreds of companies that they could be going after right now", Josh Golin, executive director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, told The Post.

We contacted Google for comment but the search giant has yet to respond.

The researchers said that Google had taken steps to help enforce Coppa compliance, with the Designed for Families programme that provides developers of children's apps with information on the law and requires certification that apps comply. The study also found that 40% of these apps shared personal information without proper security protocols, and 39% disregarded contractual obligations aimed at protecting children's privacy.

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