Tech & Science Study finds over 3,300 Android apps improperly tracking kids

10:41  16 april  2018
10:41  16 april  2018 Source:

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Exodus Privacy checked more than 300 Google Play apps for the signatures of the 25 trackers The tracker profiles created during the study have been uploaded to GitHub ( find it here). Also Read: Google Is Tracking Your Android Phone’s Location Even With Location Turned Off.

DON’T MISS: The funniest thing you’ll see today: Kids react to the Apple Watch. They decided to test out their technology by installing over 2,000 free Android apps onto phones that spanned all 25 app categories in To read Institut Eurécom’s study on Android apps , check out the full PDF here.

  Study finds over 3,300 Android apps improperly tracking kids © Provided by Engadget There's little doubt that mobile apps sometimes overstep their bounds by collecting more data from kids than the law allows. But how often does that happen? It might be more than you think.

Researchers using an automated testing process have discovered that 3,337 family- and child-oriented Android apps on Google Play were improperly collecting kids' data, potentially putting them in violation of the US' COPPA law (which limits data collection for kids under 13). Only a small number were particularly glaring violations, but many apps exhibited behavior that could easily be seen as questionable.

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Of the 5,855 total apps included in the study, 281 of them collected contact or location data without asking for a parent's permission. Needless to say, those are red flags for any app targeted at kids. A further 1,100 shared persistent identifying info with third parties for restricted purposes, while 2,281 of them seemed to violate Google terms of service forbidding apps from sharing those identifiers to the same destination as the Android Advertising ID (which gives you control over tracking). About 40 percent of apps transmitted info without using "reasonable security measures," and nearly all (92 percent) of the 1,280 apps with Facebook tie-ins weren't properly using the social network's code flags to limit under-13 use (though they may not have realized they were using this info for law-breaking purposes).

Wireless Android Auto is available for Google phones

  Wireless Android Auto is available for Google phones You need a Pixel or Nexus to ditch the USB cable in your car.Wireless, smartphone-based in-car interfaces have been slow in coming regardless of which smartphone you use. Apple's CarPlay has supported wireless connections for longer, but it's still not nearly as common as its wired counterpart. Still, this is an important step. Car manufacturers and electronics companies may be more likely to add wireless support knowing that there's a wider variety of compatible handsets.

The two investigative teams found tracking scripts not only in lesser known Android applications , where one might expect app developers to use such practices to monetize their small userbases, but also In total, researchers said they identified 44 trackers embedded in over 300 Android apps .

Spyzie is also a great GPS tracker . You can track your kid 's real-time GPS location to protect them. All of this makes Family Time the best free parental control app for Android . It is already used by over 50-100 thousand parents, who calls it “superb”, “amazing”, and “life-changing”.

The researchers are adamant that they're not showing "definitive legal liability." These apps may be running afoul of the law, but it's up to regulators at the FTC to decide if they are. Without iOS data, it's also unclear how common this problem is across platforms. We've asked Google for comment on the findings as well.

Whatever the response, the findings illustrate the challenges that Google and officials face in enforcing COPPA and similar child-focused privacy laws. It's not as simple as performing an age check or asking for parents' permission. There's a whole range of data sharing concerns that have to be addressed, and developers may not be fully aware of these -- especially for apps where kids aren't the sole focus. Likewise, it can be difficult for app store operators like Google to manually inspect apps when there are thousands added per day (over 2,700 per day as of March 2018, according to AppBrain). The automated tool behind the study could go a long way toward addressing that, but it might still require checking apps by hand before removing them or involving the law.

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