Published: Wed, April 18, 2018
Sci-tech | By Lila Blake

Thousands of Android Apps Improperly Tracking Kids' Activities

Thousands of Android Apps Improperly Tracking Kids' Activities

The researchers also said that almost half of the apps fail to always use standard security measures to transmit sensitive data over the Web, suggesting a breach of reasonable data security measures mandated by Coppa.

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. The team found its results with an automatic test that detects how data is handled in Android apps.

The US Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (Coppa) was put in place in order to make sure that children browsing online are not treated with the same careless datamining outlook as those applied to adults. Furthermore, the users are asked to enter the player's age, and the app does not collect any data if it is under 13.

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

The researchers are adamant that they're not showing "definitive legal liability".

This new study comes out just days after Android smartphone manufacturers were criticized by security researchers for misleading users into thinking their devices have the latest security patches.

The researchers found many were not complying with COPPA because they did not attain "verifiable parental consent". Moreover, the Oreo flavor brings a bunch of new features such as the picture-in-picture mode, intelligent Auto-filling of text fields, 2x faster boot times, Notification dots; Android Instant apps let you use the app within the browser without installing them and much more exciting are packed with this one. The researchers from the International Computer Science Institute had a closer look at thousands of kid's android apps and concluded that majority of the children's games are violating the law.

Egelman said, "If a robot can click-through their consent screen, which caused the sharing of data, children that do not understand what they are agreeing to can do the same". Finally, we show that efforts by Google to limit tracking through the use of a resettable advertising ID have had little success: of the 3,454 apps that share the resettable ID with advertisers, 66% transmit other, non-resettable, persistent identifiers as well, negating any intended privacy-preserving properties of the advertising ID.”. While the Android apps tracking kids' online activity are unethical in their own way, the bigger problem might be with COPPA, which is not stringent enough to check on these possible violations.

These numbers don't come as a surprise, as we've seen several phones get updated to Android Oreo in the last couple of months while many more devices were launched with Android Nougat in tow.

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