FTC investigating children’s apps over privacy concerns

By , Dec 11, 2012

The US Federal Trade Commission released a report yesterday regarding mobile apps that are aimed at children. It has been investigating kids titles from both the App Store and the Google Play marketplace, and has found that there has been little done over the past few years to address privacy concerns. These apps are still collecting kids’ data, and sharing it, without their parents’ knowledge or consent…

From the FTC report (via MacRumors):

“Staff examined hundreds of apps for children and looked at disclosers and links on each app’s promotion page in the app store, on the app developer’s website, and within the app. According to the report, “most apps failed to provide any information about the data collected through the app, let alone the type of data collected, the purpose of the collection, and who would obtain access to the data. Even more troubling, the results showed that many of the apps shared certain information with third parties – such as device ID, geolocation, or phone number – without disclosing that fact to parents. Further, a number of apps contained interactive features – such as advertising, the ability to make in-app purchases, and links to social media – without disclosing these features to parents prior to download.”

This isn’t the first time the government has called the intentions of kids app developers into question. Last year, the FTC looked into Apple’s in-app purchasing platform after parents reported iTunes bills of $1000+ due to misleading game info. Kids were doing things like buying 1000 magic cherries for $99.99 in real money, unbeknownst to their parents. This actually led to a security change in iOS 4.3.

As far as privacy goes, we’ve long been aware of the issue with it on mobile devices. And to help combat the problem, Apple recently introduced new features in iOS 6 to help users understand which apps are asking for their personal data. And it’s also banned developers from using intrusive UDIDs, and has given users a way to limit ad tracking. But there’s obviously still some major concerns here.

What do you think parents, are you concerned about your kids’ privacy while they’re on your iOS devices?

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