FTC Investigates Possible Children's Privacy Violation By Mobile Apps

By Cory Orlando | Dec 10, 2012 08:57 PM EST

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The Federal Trade Commission is currently investigating a number of U.S. companies regarding their failure to protect children's privacy in the mobile app marketplace. The speculation occurred after a report found makers of mobile apps, that are designed for children, failed to inform parents of what information was being collected on their children.

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Some of the information that was being collected could include the child's mobile device number or even worse, their location. The FTC has been enforcing the 1998 Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, which requires any company to get parental consent before they collect any information about children under the age of 12.

"FTC staff has initiated a number of investigations to address the gaps between company practices and disclosures," the agency stated in a report. It was not specified which companies the FTC was investigating or even how many companies were involved.

To form the study, the agency collected information from 400 apps, 200 from Google Play and the rest from Apple's App Store. Disclosure and user information was collected and transmitted for research. Surprisingly only 20 percent of apps disclosed that they were collecting any information, while 60 percent collected the unique information and passed it on to the developer or third party.

"Staff did find a handful of apps developers that were providing users with simple and short disclosures. But most apps failed to provide basic information about what data would be collected from kids, how it would be used, and with whom it would be shared," the report stated.

For developers, collecting information of this nature could pose a security risk for many children and raise a concern for parents. This privacy leak could also lead parents to give a second thought into letting their children get a smartphone that can download apps, or even an iPod.

Many of the apps that are being developed today connect to social media and share the information throughout the Web with a third party. What that information is being used for and how it is being used is the biggest concern.

Can the information collected by the apps fall into wrong hands? Leave your comments below.

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