Most Mobile Apps for Kids Secretly Collect and Share Information
Jim LiebeltJim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University. Jim has over 25 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, and has been on the HomeWord staff since 1998. He has served over the years as a pastor, author, youth ministry trainer, adjunct college instructor and speaker. Jim’s culture blog and parenting articles appear on HomeWord.com. Jim is a contributing author of culture and parenting articles to Crosswalk.com. Jim and his wife Jenny live in Olympia, WA.
- 2012 Dec 10
A study from the Federal Trade Commission has found that most mobile apps for kids are secretly collecting information from children including device IDs, phone numbers, locations and other private information without their parents' knowledge or consent.
Nearly 60 percent of the mobile apps the FTC reviewed from the Google Play and Apple App stores transmitted the device ID. They also often shared that ID with an advertising network, analytics company or another third party. Of those 235 mobile apps, 14 also transmitted the location of the device and the phone number, the FTC found.
More than half of the apps also contained interactive features such as in-app purchases and advertising that were not disclosed to parents.
Yet only 20 percent of the apps disclosed any information about their privacy practices.
"While we think most companies have the best intentions when it comes protecting kids’ privacy, we haven’t seen any progress when it comes to making sure parents have the information they need to make informed choices about apps for their kids. In fact, our study shows that kids' apps siphon an alarming amount of information from mobile devices without disclosing this fact to parents," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a written statement. "All of the companies in the mobile app space, especially the gatekeepers of the app stores, need to do a better job."