Thousands of Android apps may be collecting children's data illegally

According to the researchers, numerous apps might be breaching the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act in the United States, which is supposed to regulate how mobile apps, games and websites are allowed to collect and process personal information from children under the age of 13. End-users can examine our results to understand the privacy behaviors of the apps they use (or plan to use). It also appears many of these apps are the equivalent of a auto cobbled together with spare parts lying around; developers just find code that solves the problem, bolt it onto their app, and ignore the giant booklet of warnings that comes with it. After testing 1.8 million apps, he found nearly 20,000 featured built-in passwords and keys, and even when a separate password store was used, user data was still open to attack from simple password crackers.

The malware was hidden in this app, which basically was created using two types of already identified spyware called Desert Scorpion and FrozenCell. However, it is the first time that Palestinians have been targeted with Android spyware all thanks to a fake Facebook page.

"Given the number of children's apps and a complex third-party ecosystem, analysis at scale is important to properly understand the privacy landscape", the study's conclusion added.

Researchers also found that 28% of the tested apps accessed sensitive data protected by Android permissions and 73% transmitted sensitive data over the Internet.

Fun Kid Racing alone has more than 10 million downloads, according to the app page.

Egelman said, "If a robot can click-through their consent screen, which caused the sharing of data, children that do not understand what they are agreeing to can do the same".

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This time Google is bidding farewell to the traditional Back, Home, and Recent Apps buttons.

Furthermore, it says Google's efforts to limit tracking by using resettable advertising IDs are largely ineffective.

In other news, Facebook still tracks users even if they're logged out of the social network.

The study also looked at how the apps were transferring the data, and found that 40 percent of them failed to do it in a secure way.

COPPA regulates how mobile apps, games, and websites are allowed to collect and process personal information from children under the age of 13, in an effort to protect minors from giving away their personal data before they fully understand the implications of it. The security measure is the "standard method for securely transmitting information", the researchers said.

  • Delia Davidson