At the risk of becoming Famigo’s resident privacy “expert”, I am going to dedicate another blog post to privacy. This one is a little different than my last one, today I will talk about the FTC’s new report on mobile apps for kids. The study was over data collection done by apps intended for children. This is a subject that is very dear to our hearts at Famigo. I strongly encourage you to read the report for yourself, but you’re probably too busy for that so I’ll summarize the key points from the report below:
The first major point from the study was that there is almost no way for parents to know exactly what data is being collected by apps designed for their children. Even after reading the descriptions for each app the FTC found that when it came to data collection there was absolutely no disclosure on the part of developers.
The second major point was that both Apple and Google are not enforcing their own polices on app developers when it comes to data collection and its disclosure. Since there is no enforcement of these rules, developers have no reason to disclosure the type of data they are collecting from users. The FTC believe that if Apple and Google actually enforced their own policies developers would not be collecting data in such a secretive manner.
The third major point was that the FTC believes some app developers may be in violation of COPPA. COPPA is the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. It was passed in 1998 in order to keep children’s information private on the Internet. The FTC argues that this bill applies to apps designed specifically for children.
The fourth and final point made in the report was that there is no standard way to show what an app does behind the scenes. That’s why the FTC proposes a mobile privacy disclosure that will let you know exactly what an app does in the background. You should be able to view this disclosure before you purchase an app for your child. This appears to be a fair solution for both parents and developers.
It would be a whole lot better for the industry if they regulated themselves when it comes to privacy. There would be less red tape and more good will between developers and consumers, but since there is a quick buck to be made in collecting user data the FTC will have to step in and regulate the problem.
Do you think background data collection is a problem? Sound off in the comments below.