Google is removing 3 kids apps from the Play Store for...

Google is removing 3 kids apps from the Play Store for...
Google is removing 3 kids apps from the Play Store for...
Just because a kid’s app looks harmless doesn’t mean it doesn’t do shady things in the background. According to a report in TechCrunch, Google reportedly cracked down on three kids apps on the Play Store – Princess Salon, Number Coloring, and Cats & Cosplay – for allegedly violating data collection guidelines.

According to the report, Google took action against the apps after researchers from the International Digital Accountability Council, a nonprofit data protection officer, informed it of the violations. None of the links to the apps on the Play Store are currently working, which seems to support the theory that they passed for a reason. In a statement on its website, IDAC noted that one of the issues was related to the software development kits used in the three apps, Unity, Appodeal and Umeng.

The organization confirmed that its tests found that certain versions of the three SDKs used in the apps “did not meet Google Play’s general data collection guidelines.” Although IDAC did not detail all suspected violations, it highlighted a specific issue related to certain versions of the Unity SDK.

“IDAC testing has shown that certain versions of Unity’s SDK capture the user’s AAID and Android ID at the same time, potentially allowing Unity to bypass privacy controls and track users over time and across devices,” the organization said.

IDAC further explains that this is important because the AAID – a unique, resettable ID for advertising that advertising networks can use, among other things, to create a personalized data profile of your likes and dislikes – is linked to the Android ID. created through which businesses can track users.

The Android ID is another unique identifier that, unlike the AAID, cannot be reset. The data protection organization concludes that “ID bridging” ultimately makes users’ ability to reset their AAID unusable. As explained by Wired, users can reset their AAID to prevent the profiles they have collected on ad networks from growing any further, or to force the networks to create a new profile for them.

According to TechCrunch, the Princess Salon, Number Coloring, and Cats & Cosplay apps have had more than 20 million downloads.

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Gizmodo reached out to Google to inquire about the IDAC report and to confirm whether any action was taken against these apps as a result. We will update this blog when we hear something.

If these apps were actually collecting data that they could use to track kids across devices, that’s pretty annoying. I don’t have children, but if I did I would be pretty upset if their games were collecting profiles and building on them. Not only is it appalling, but it’s also a potential violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, a federal act that prohibits operators of websites and online services, including apps and social networks, from accessing personal information from children under the age of 13 to collect without parental consent.

[TechCrunch and IDAC]

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