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BREAKING NEWS

New Report Says Research Study Discovers Thousands of Android Apps That Improperly Track Children
April 16, 2018



Chronicle staff

(NATIONAL) – A website that focuses on tech oriented issues, BGR.com is reporting that researchers affiliated with the International Computer Science Institute (ICSI) have produced a study - “‘Won’t Somebody Think of the Children?’ Examining COPPA Compliance at Scale,” - that “seemingly” has revealed that, “Android’s app store is home to thousands of apps that are improperly tracking...young children.”

The site reports, from an abstract on the study, that researchers using a “dynamic analysis framework that allows for the automatic evaluation of the privacy behaviors of Android apps,” have analyzed mobile apps’ “compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), one of the few stringent privacy laws in the U.S.,” and that based on its automated analysis of 5,855 of the most popular free apps, “We found that a majority are potentially in violation of COPPA, mainly due to their use of third-party SDKs.”

An SDK is a software development kit of “tools” that allows the creation of apps (computer, phone and other programs) for a certain “software package, software framework, hardware platform, computer system, hardware platform” or similar development platforms, according to Wikipedia.

The researchers found that, “While many of these SDKs offer configuration options to respect COPPA by disabling tracking and behavioral advertising, our data suggest that a majority of apps either do not make use of these options or incorrectly propagate them across mediation SDKs. Worse, we observed that 19% of children’s apps collect identifiers or other personally identifiable information (PII) via SDKs whose terms of service outright prohibit their use in child-directed apps. Finally, we show that efforts by Google to limit tracking through the use of a resettable advertising ID have had little success: of the 3,454 apps that share the resettable ID with advertisers, 66% transmit other, non-resettable, persistent identifiers as well, negating any intended privacy-preserving properties of the advertising ID.”

More here. The full study can be read here.














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