Google Play Store Has a Serious Privacy Problem with Android Apps for Kids

Everyone deserves a fair bit of privacy online, but it’s safe to say that the privacy of children tends to be given an even higher level of importance. The internet can be a relatively dangerous place for children if you’re not careful, so app stores should generally pay close attention to apps that are meant for kids because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up reducing the likelihood that children might have their privacy violated by some kind of app that they are using each and every day.

Most of the privacy protocols that have been put in place for the purposes of safeguarding children online come from COPPA, or the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Any app that is on the Google Play Store is supposed to conform to these rules and regulations if it is meant for an audience that is younger than thirteen years of age, but the unfortunate truth is that Google really isn’t doing a good enough job with ensuring that apps that don’t follow these rules are preventing from using their platform to reach vulnerable kids all around the world.

The reason that we are saying this is that around 20% of the top 500 apps for children on the Google Play Store were found to violate these privacy policies to some extent or the other. This discovery was made by Comparitech, and the analysis revealed that the privacy violations mostly occurred in the form of data mining that’s not exactly legal since there are hard limits that have been placed on the kinds of data that an app developer can collect from kids for some pretty obvious reasons.

The truly frightening thing about this discovery is that the apps that are taking far too much data from their audience of children have been downloaded by nearly half a billion unique users in total, so the potential for the misuse of this data is so high that it really needs to be addressed. Google is responsible for safeguarding the rights of the people that use their platform each and every day, and if the tech giant can’t take steps to reduce the number of violators of privacy protection laws for children then people might not feel safe enough to use their app store in the first place.

A stricter enforcement of COPPA regulations could go a long way towards helping children avoid a lot of the dangers that come with downloading apps and the like, but at the same time parents should really take a more proactive role in deciding what apps their young children can and can’t use.
Around 20% of the top 500 apps for children on the Google Play Store were found to violate the privacy policies.
1 in 5 children’s Google Play Apps breach Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act rules
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