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Thousands of Apps in Google Play Store May Be Illegally Tracking Children, Study Finds


A boy accesses an app on a tablet.

Researchers have found many popular apps for children on the Google Play Store may violate child privacy laws.

Credit: Shutterstock

An analysis of 5,855 popular children's apps available on the Google Play Store has determined most may be in violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), according to a new study.

The researchers found thousands of the apps collected the personal data of children younger than 13 without a parent's consent. More than 1,000 apps collected identifying data on children using tracking software whose terms explicitly ban their use for children's apps, while almost 50 percent fail to always employ standard security measures to transmit sensitive data online, implying a breach of COPPA-stipulated reasonable data-security measures.

Each of the studied apps had been installed more than 750,000 times, on average.

"The rampant potential violations that we have uncovered points out basic enforcement work that needs to be done," says Serge Egelman with the University of California at Berkeley's International Computer Science Institute.

From The Washington Post
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