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Next time you allow your kids to use smartphones and apps, think about their privacy. A recent study revealed that many apps destined for family or children use actually collect a lot of private information. Therefore, the developers seem to have broken a number of important federal regulations regarding data collection.
Many apps for children use are pretty intrusive
This study was developed by researchers from Stony Brook University, UC Berkeley, and University of British Columbia. They looked at 5,855 apps that are destined for children use, and found some worrying results. Five percent of all these apps – or 281 – collect data regarding personal information or location. In all these cases, the apps didn’t ask parents for permission to access the data in question.
This is quite a serious situation, as it is contrary to some federal rules. In 1999, the government adopted COPPA, or Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Just like its name suggests, any kind of software or apps destined for children use should keep away from sensitive data.
The developers will surely suffer the consequences
After such results, the Federal Trade Commission might end up sanctioning many of these developers. Even so, parents remain worried, as they no longer know what apps are safe for their children. Although they were strictly for children use, 28 percent of them actually accessed private information.
An even more worrying percentage, 73 percent, collected this private information, while others performed even more serious violations. The most serious of them all were those which identified the location of the users and downloaded this information.
Of course, knowing where users live is already a huge privacy violation. However, this type of data can reveal some other important information about the users. For instance, developers might find out about their economic status, interests, and some other type of social information. These apps should respect the COPPA regulations, and get parent approval before collecting any kind of data from software destined for children use.
Image source: Flickr