Android developers potentially violating child privacy laws

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COPPA was created to protect the privacy of children and requires Web sites and apps to obtain a parent's permission before collecting the private information of a user under the age of 13.

Google Play is full of Android apps that track kids' online activity, thus violating the US privacy laws such as COPPA, claims a survey from a team of university researchers and computer scientists, according to Gizmodo.

"Although we can not know the true number of children's apps in the Play Store, we believe that our results are representative, given that the apps that we examined represent the most popular free ones", the study, first spotted by Engadget, concluded.

The study also discovered that 1,100 of these apps (that's 18.8 percent) send data using a software development kit that is not meant to be used with kids apps, and whose terms of service forbid it. "Overall, roughly 57% of the 5,855 child-directed apps that we analysed are potentially violating Coppa". However, COPPA has laid strict guidelines against the use of such techniques on children.

Twenty-eight percent of the apps studied bypassed Android permissions to access "sensitive data", the study found, while 73 percent of the apps in question collected "sensitive data".

"The existence of ViperRAT and Desert Scorpion on Google Play showcases that actors are continuing to "tune" their malware to get past early stage detections and make it into first-party app stores", Flossman told the publication via email.

However, it is up to regulatory bodies like the FTC whether or not the developers of these Android apps will be held guilty of violating children privacy laws. But researchers believe that it is up to the regulators to decide.

There are many duplicates of authentic apps in the Play Store and some are infected with ransomware, which could help hackers to steal your data without you noticing.

But that doesn't bail out Google in any way.

The researchers didn't look at the Apple app store, so the problem could be just as widespread there, too. Google Home and Google Home Minipassed a radio certification testat the National Radio Research Agency on April 6 and 10, respectively.

While Google has made several successful attempts to curb such apps, the efforts have resulted in little success.

In a statement released on the company's website, it explains that it has applied for the injunction in the UK High Court in response to Google's attempt to disable AdMob generated advertising content and removing Unlockd apps from the Google Play Store.

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