Mobile Apps for Children Still Not Good Enough When It Comes to Privacy Disclosures

The FTC has issued its second report on this topic

By on December 12th, 2012 15:05 GMT

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has released its second report on the privacy disclosures and practices of mobile apps dedicated to children from Google Play and Apple’s App Store. Despite the fact that they’ve been advised numerous times to make some improvements, companies are still far from where they should be.

Compared to the first study, little progress has been made toward informing parents regarding what data is being collected from their children, how it’s being shared, and who has access to it.

Hundreds of mobile applications have been examined and despite the fact that they’ve been downloaded from the developer’s site or from trusted markets, most of them failed to provide any information on the data collected through the app.

The most worrying part is that some applications even collect geo-location and phone numbers without previously warning parents about the privacy implications.

The figures show that only 20% of the examined apps disclose information about privacy practices, while 60% of them transmit information back to the developer, or to a third party such as an analytics company or an advertising network.

This latest report once again urges app stores, developers and other involved entities to accelerate their efforts in ensuring that parents are provided with all the necessary information before downloading applications for their children.

“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,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.

“In fact, our study shows that kids' apps siphon an alarming amount of information from mobile devices without disclosing this fact to parents. All of the companies in the mobile app space, especially the gatekeepers of the app stores, need to do a better job. We'll do another survey in the future and we will expect to see improvement.”

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