FTC Investigates Apps for Kids, Has Privacy Concerns

FTC Investigates Apps for Kids, Has Privacy Concerns

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has released a report closely looking at apps aimed at children on the Apple App Store and the Google Play marketplace. The report, entitled Mobile Apps for Kids: Disclosures Still Not Making the Grade, follows a survey of kids’ apps that was performed performed in 2011 which also looked at privacy policies and other practices for apps targeted at children.

From the report, via MacRumors:

Staff examined hundreds of apps for children and looked at disclosers and links on each app’s promotion page in the app store, on the app developer’s website, and within the app. According to the report, “most apps failed to provide any information about the data collected through the app, let alone the type of data collected, the purpose of the collection, and who would obtain access to the data. Even more troubling, the results showed that many of the apps shared certain information with third parties – such as device ID, geolocation, or phone number – without disclosing that fact to parents. Further, a number of apps contained interactive features – such as advertising, the ability to make in-app purchases, and links to social media – without disclosing these features to parents prior to download.”

The commission is also launching a “non-public investigations to determine whether certain entities in the mobile app marketplace are violating” Federal law.

No one knows where these investigations will lead, but it is far from the first look by the government into app privacy policies. California recently sued Delta Airlines over its iOS app. The suit claimed that Delta hasn’t provided a sufficient privacy policy for the app. While the company has such a policy on its web site, it did not have a separate one for the Fly Delta app.

The FTC has been quite active of late in the tech world. In one such case earlier this year, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) asked the FTC to examine the practices of photo uploads to app developers earlier this year.