Google purges popular children apps from Play Store due to data privacy violations

samgush

Posts: 16   +0
Why it matters: Google has purged the wildly popular Number Coloring, Princess Salon, and Cats & Cosplay apps from the Play Store. The apps were banned following an investigation by the International Digital Accountability Council (IDAC). They were found to have engaged in persistent data collection practices in apps used by children, in contravention of Google statutes.

Developers of apps targeting children are guided by an especially stringent set of policies, unlike general audience app creators. Among the stipulations is that the content provided should be appropriate for children. They are also obliged to use Google Play certified ad SDKs for ad displays ads, while refraining from Interest-based targeting, and retargeting.

The developers reportedly used Android Advertising ID (AAID) technology which deploys persistent identifiers. They also tapped Android ID which can be used for device targeting. When it comes to user data collection, kids' app designers are required to disclose any personal identifiable information to be collected, including via APIs and SDKs. The information includes microphone, authentication information, device data, and advertising ID. Google has said that it is working with privacy organizations to prevent developers from flaunting the rules.

International privacy bodies are moving to further regulate information collected by tech companies, especially related to the children demographic. Facebook is already under investigation in Europe by the Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) for potentially failing to implement sufficient data protection measures for users aged below 18 years.

Facebook has denied flaunting any data-privacy related rules but announced that it is cooperating with the Ireland’s DPC.

Facebook is already under investigation in Europe by the Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) - Image: The Irish Times

At the heart of the latest saga is Instagram. Investigators are looking at whether Facebook breached privacy laws by failing to protect kids’ user data on Instagram. This is by allowing sensitive information such as phone numbers and email addresses of minors to be made public on the platform. Facebook has denied flaunting any data-privacy related rules but announced that it is cooperating with the Ireland’s DPC.

The DPC agency is the top EU data regulator. Part of its mandate is to enforce the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) provisions that were enacted in 2018. The body also has the power to issue fines once evidence of a breach is found. The DPC is looking into whether Facebook is even legally allowed to process children's personal data.

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QuantumPhysics

Posts: 3,750   +3,640
There’s a war going on for control of my information and my privacy online. Right now I do trust Apple to thumb their nose in the faces of these malicious and unscrupulous app makers who would love to steal all of my information or use it for nefarious purposes.
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 3,567   +2,466
Why is children’s information somehow more important than adults’? Technically, aren’t these children being supervised by adults when using electronics?

Maybe we should put a bit more responsibility into parents... nah... let’s just blame the screens, not the people who put the screens in front of them...
/s (because I’m sure some fool will be offended)
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,101   +914
>> " Developers of apps targeting children [must] refrain from Interest-based targeting..."

Logically, it would seem that this policy is almost exactly backwards, I.e. that interest-based advertising is more concerning when directed at adults rather than children.
 

Jpe1701

Posts: 26   +18
These kids should be taught to know this stuff. Kids should know how ads are targeted and how companies and other entities use and gather info as basic information from school and at home.
 

mbrowne5061

Posts: 1,695   +966
There’s a war going on for control of my information and my privacy online. Right now I do trust Apple to thumb their nose in the faces of these malicious and unscrupulous app makers who would love to steal all of my information or use it for nefarious purposes.
I don't. Corporations aren't your friends, no exceptions, no 'lesser evil'. If Apple decides they can compete with the likes of Google, Twitter, and Facebook in the information-peddling game, they will without a second thought.
 
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EClyde

Posts: 2,348   +915
Look at this great box of Jets. I would watch TV see the ad and tell MOM! Get me some Jets! What's different....Not a darn thing
 
Why is children’s information somehow more important than adults’? Technically, aren’t these children being supervised by adults when using electronics?

Maybe we should put a bit more responsibility into parents... nah... let’s just blame the screens, not the people who put the screens in front of them...
/s (because I’m sure some fool will be offended)
Even speaking as a non-parent: assuming that adults are supervising their children’s use of electronics strikes me as a bit naive. That said, I don’t disagree that parents bear responsibility for supervising their kids’ use of connected devices. The entire point of COPPA and other child privacy laws is that it empowers parents to understand, and make informed decisions about, how their kids’ information is collected, used, and shared. General privacy laws, even the dreaded GDPR, are riddled with loopholes. With children, it’s heartening to know that at least there are solid, actual rules regarding the privacy of this vulnerable subset of the population.

I previously worked for a U.S. company offering various privacy management solutions. If I learned one thing in my years there, it’s this: don’t f*** around with COPPA.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,101   +914
Corporations aren't your friends, no exceptions, no 'lesser evil'.
In ranking the 100 most important advancements of mankind, I would place the invention of the corporation well within the top ten. In a free market, corporations are indeed our friends: you can always choose to do or not do business with them. You don't want Apple to have your data? Stop using their products. The "all corporations are evil" mindset is not only misguided and counterproductive, but, given free reign, highly dangerous to the functioning of our modern society.
 

mbrowne5061

Posts: 1,695   +966
In ranking the 100 most important advancements of mankind, I would place the invention of the corporation well within the top ten. In a free market, corporations are indeed our friends: you can always choose to do or not do business with them. You don't want Apple to have your data? Stop using their products. The "all corporations are evil" mindset is not only misguided and counterproductive, but, given free reign, highly dangerous to the functioning of our modern society.
I can't choose to not do business with Facebook. They keep a profile on me even without an account. Man, even when I think about it, buying a car may be the last place where there actually is an option between companies, - if not actual cars, they all largely feel the same these days, and they all use Bosch parts at the end of the day - most other markets have reduced themselves to 1-3 options via mergers and acquisitions.

But yes, largely the free market is a good thing on paper. The problem is when you completely de-regulate it and assume that the consumer can maintain perfect knowledge of the whole market, from the harvesting of raw materials to the delivery of a finished product. You can't over-regulate a market, or natural changes in the world will screw it up when it can't adapt - and you can't under-regulate it either.

Regardless, my point wasn't so much about corporations, but about corporation worship. You're still just a revenue stream to these places, and they will do whatever maximizes that stream. Sure, buy the best product from the best corporation, but leave it at that. The worship part breaks the free market just as much as over-regulation does.
 
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