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Mobile Apps Under Scrutiny For Infringing On Children’s Privacy

Mobile Apps Under Scrutiny For Infringing On Children’s Privacy

A grand total of 1,400,000 apps are available through the Apple App Store and Google Play. With everything from Angry Birds, to Mapquest, to Pandora all within a child’s reach,  the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is starting to crack down on children’s online privacy laws for mobile devices.

The FTC points out that device ID, geolocation and phone numbers can all be pulled from an app user’s mobile device, but parents are seldom notified of this data-fishing. According to the FTC, mobile apps are crossing a line when children’s information enters the mix.

What’s even trickier is how much users actually know about the devices they operate every day. A recent study demonstrates that the majority of users are “sorely mistaken about how much privacy they have.” 59 percent of respondents indicated they thought their phones were just as safe as their computers. And 19 percent said they thought their phones were even more private than their computers. This, however, is not the case, as information on a mobile device is relatively insecure and third-party accessible, meaning the user’s data is quietly tracked and shared.

The FTC aims to make heavy changes in the children’s online privacy law by:

(1) Incorporating privacy protections into the design of mobile products and services

(2) Offering parents easy-to-understand choices about the data collection and sharing through kids’ apps

(3) Providing greater transparency about how data is collected, used and shared through kids’ apps.

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) prevents companies from asking for information from a child under the age of thirteen. But this thirteen-year-old privacy law has been deemed ineffective in the face of modern technology. As the current law stands, tracking software, cookies and mobile apps can still make their way into kids’ data. Apps rarely offer a visible privacy policy, so kids and parents often download the mobile app without consenting first. The FTC’s proposed updates to COPPA are still part of an ongoing discussion of how the law should view online information — especially the online information of kids under the age of thirteen.

 

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54 comments

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10:09PM PST on Jan 3, 2013

really hard to monitor when 13-y.o. and younger are getting cell phones...

7:48AM PST on Dec 23, 2012

Please include articles on the physiological risks to very young children of using cell phones and other wireless technologies. The electromagnetic radiation they emit can seriously harm their health. This is just as or more serious than protecting children's privacy. The telecoms operators and manufacturers and even health authorities are hiding the truth from consumers And, please Care2, never show a photo of a toddler using a cell phone. It is emitting radiation into the child's brain!

7:43AM PST on Dec 23, 2012

Ple

1:45AM PST on Dec 20, 2012

ty

1:44AM PST on Dec 20, 2012

ty

10:59PM PST on Dec 17, 2012

Why do parents give children unrestricted access to cell phone?

6:14PM PST on Dec 17, 2012

Scary... Petition signed, thank you.

5:50PM PST on Dec 17, 2012

ty

5:49PM PST on Dec 17, 2012

ty

2:31PM PST on Dec 17, 2012

Thanks

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