3,000 Apps Improperly Track Kids

People around the world use Facebook on a regular basis, to the tune of some 2-plus billion users every month – and that number isn’t doing anything but growing. This comes despite Facebook’s scandal with Cambridge Analytica, which prompted CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify in front of United States Congress about how data was handled.

The topic of concern was that Facebook is believed to collect too much data, to a level that invades the privacy of all of its users, even though they agree to such data mining agreements when they sign up.

Collecting data from people under 13 years of age, at least in the United States, is illegal.

A recent study published in the academic research journal Proceedings on Privacy Enhancing Technologies found that a whopping 3,337 apps compatible with Android devices illegally and improperly gathered up the data of children under 13 years of age. The apps in question are all billed family-friendly, even though the data of their users were collected, which isn’t supposed to happen.

These apps could have broken the United States COPPA, or Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, an important piece of legislation that allows parents to determine whether information that is personally identifiable can be collected or not.

It is, in fact, legal for such apps to collect data from people under 13 years of age in the United States, though parents must explicitly grant approval for such apps to do so.

An analysis was conducted on in excess of 80,000 moile apps on the Google Play network between November 2016 and March 2018 and found that some 5,855 apps geared towards children could have potentially violated that COPPA legislature. Fortunately for parents around the nation, only roughly 5 percent of the 80,000-plus apps on the Google Play network had made “clear violations” in terms of sharing location or the contact information of people that use them.

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