Google Responds to Study Claiming a Majority of Children’s Android Apps Potentially Track Kids

April 17, 2018, 3:42 PM UTC
kids with apps
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Google has responded to a recent study that found that nearly 60% of the most popular free Android apps used by children and families are potentially in violation of a federal law designed to protect the privacy of kids under 13 years old.

“We’re taking the researchers’ report very seriously and looking into their findings,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement to Tom’s Guide. “Protecting kids and families is a top priority, and our Designed for Families program requires developers to abide by specific requirements above and beyond our standard Google Play policies.

“If we determine that an app violates our policies, we will take action,” the spokesperson added. “We always appreciate the research community’s work to help make the Android ecosystem safer.”

The report in question was conducted by the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley, Calif. The study found that 57% of the 5,855 Android apps analyzed could be at risk of illegally monitoring children’s behavior online. The federal law, 1998’s Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), mandates privacy and consent requirements for website operators catering to children under 13.

The study further found that 92% of the 1,280 Android apps that utilize Facebook’s application programming interface (API) are potentially in violation of COPPA. The report comes at a time when Facebook is under heavy scrutiny for its use and storage of users’ personal information and data.

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