The FTC reported that 80% of apps used by children contained the ability to access the Internet (compared to 62% in 2011) and 13% had the ability to access user geo-location (compared to 10.5% in 2011). The New York Times reported:
Several hundred of the most popular educational and gaming mobile apps for children fail to give parents basic explanations about what kinds of personal information the apps collect from children, who can see that data and what they use it for...
The FTC’s 2012 Report is entitled Mobile Apps for Kids: Disclosures Still Not Making the Grade is a follow-up to a similar report in 2011 and concludes by calling “on everyone involved in the mobile app marketplace – app stores, app developers, and third-parties that interact with the apps – to follow the three key principles laid out in the FTC’s Privacy Report:”
(1) adopting a “privacy by- design” approach to minimize risks to personal information;
(2) providing consumers with simpler and more streamlined choices about relevant data practices; and,
(3) providing consumers with greater transparency about how data is collected, used, and shared.
Of greatest relevance to the findings in this report, industry participants must work together to develop accurate disclosures regarding what data is collected through kids’ apps, how it will be used, who it will be shared with, and whether the apps contain interactive features such as advertising, the ability to make in-app purchases, and links to social media.
This information about the invasion of children’s privacy with apps is alarming and clearly the needs to be better regulated by our government.