Most mobile applications aimed at children collect information including device IDs, location data and phone numbers – without their parents` permission, according to a Federal Trade Commission report.
The FTC is also launching investigations to see whether some of these app companies are acting in violation of the Children`s Online Privacy Protection Act (Coppa) or the Federal Trade Commission Act.
"While we think most companies have the best intentions when it comes protecting kids` privacy, we haven`t seen any progress when it comes to making sure parents have the information they need to make informed choices about apps for their kids. In fact, our study shows that kids` apps siphon an alarming amount of information from mobile devices without disclosing this fact to parents," FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz said.
The most commonly shared information was the device ID that can contain personal information including names, phone numbers, friends lists, emails and location data. Of the 400 apps reviewed, 235 shared this information with third parties.
Nearly 60% of the apps send information from a device to developers, advertising networks, analytics companies or other third parties.
Of these third parties, a very small group receives the information, which the FCC says could allow these companies to create detailed profiles on children based on how they interact and use different apps.
Many of the apps also failed to disclose in-app features including advertising, links to social media and the ability to purchase virtual goods.
The FTC first surveyed children`s mobile apps last year and released its findings in February 2012. The FTC felt that mobile application companies had failed to address the commission`s concerns.
"All of the companies in the mobile app space, especially the gatekeepers of the app stores, need to do a better job," said Leibowitz. "We`ll do another survey in the future and we will expect to see improvement."
Of the surveyed apps, the FTC found only 20% disclosed information on their privacy practices.
BdST 2131 HRS, Dec 11, 2012
Edited by: Sabbin Hasan, ICT Editor
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