Then there's the problem with ensuring children are honest with how old they are when accessing apps and that they do indeed seek the permission of parents when prompted. Furthermore, the users are asked to enter the player's age, and the app does not collect any data if it is under 13.
The study finds thousands of apps targeted to children were sending data to advertisers, some including Global Positioning System location. "The rampant potential violations that we have uncovered points out basic enforcement work that needs to be done".
"Although we can not know the true number of children's apps in the Play Store, we believe that our results are representative, given that the apps that we examined represent the most popular free ones", the study, first spotted by Engadget, concluded.
All the apps analyzed in their study are part of the Google Play Store "Designed for Families" (DFF) program, a section of the Play Store that lists only apps that developers say are COPPA compliant, so at least in theory, these apps should not have had any violations. If we determine that an app violates our policies, we will take action. This webpage allows developers to choose which Android devices they don't want installing their app, mainly for compatibility reasons. "These techniques include not shipping the malicious functionality of an app until a second stage that is triggered by some behavior".
The study looked at 5,855 apps targeted at children, which had each been downloaded an average of 750,000 times, the researchers said.
As politicians and other critics have noted, Google and other companies in the data-monetization business have reaped massive profits from consumer information as regulators have not managed to keep up with the pace of change. "The new, alarming report is further evidence that Google is thumbing its nose at the only federal online privacy law that we have".
Thousands of child-directed Android apps and games are potentially violating USA law on the collection and sharing of data on those under 13, research has revealed. Furthermore, he added that these companies are not expected to reverse-engineer apps to make an informed decision whether it is safe for children to use.