Google 'Looking Into' Claims About Kid-Tracking Android Apps

Over 3300 Android Apps on Google Play Store Are Improperly Tracking Kids

An automated system was made use of researchers from the International Computer Science Institute to find out if the apps met with the regulations of the COPPA law meant to protect children.

Thousands of the tested apps collected the personal data of children under the age of 13 without their parents' permission, the study found.

The study, which comes from researchers at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley, CA, analyzed 5,855 of the most popular free Android apps targeted at kids and families. Shackleford advised being more proactive, "To really get ahead of the problem, though, parents should use software like FamilyTime to help keep a closer eye on the apps their kids are using, and make sure that private browsers and extensions-like DuckDuckGo and Privacy Badger-are the norm".

Research has revealed that the apps were not only collecting phone numbers, emails and location data (5 percent), but they were also sharing sensitive information with third-parties (19 percent) which was specifically forbidden to prevent tracking and behavioral advertising.

To source this data, Google tracks the Android versions of any devices accessing the Play Store over the course of a 7-day period.

"There's no way for the average consumer to tell an app can do this", Egelman told NBC News.

In a further nod to its blatant iPhone X styling, Google also appears to have redesigned the Android P navigation bar - doing away with the current recent apps icon, altogether, while reconfiguring the Home button to embody a pill-shaped icon that's eerily similar (albeit much smaller) to the one on iPhone X. Popular examples include the language learning app Duolingo, the infinite running game Minion Rush and the Disney puzzle game Where's My Water?. Protecting children and family members is a top priority, and our Designed for people program requires developers to comply by certain needs beyond and beyond our standard Google Play guidelines.

"If we determine that an app violates our policies, we will take action", the spokesperson added. 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.

"The new, alarming report is further evidence that Google is thumbing its nose at the only federal online privacy law that we have".

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