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Calling all parents: Kids' mobile apps not so private

January 17, 2013

Kids and technology go together like chicken fingers and ketchup. Even babies can finger swipe these days. But a new Federal Trade Commission report on mobile apps for kids, "Mobile Apps for Kids: Disclosures Still Not Making the Grade," says many kids' apps aren't protecting your child's privacy like they're supposed to. The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) regulates the privacy and safety online for children under age 13. According to COPPA, app developers must, for example, provide a link to a clear and prominent privacy policy about the kinds of personal information it collects from children who download the app.

The FTC's report, however, which analyzed and tested 200 apps each from the Apple and Google Play app stores, found that the majority of the kids' apps collected or transmitted information, including the device's I.D., without disclosing the app's privacy practices. A mobile device's ID is a short string of letters and/or numbers that can allow apps, developers and other companies such as ad networks to receive information about the user, such as the user's (your child's) name, phone number, e-mail address, friends list and geolocation. All mobile devices have an I.D.

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