FTC Says Mobile Apps for Kids ‘Aren’t Making The Grade’

A biting new report from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission indicates that iOS and Android apps aimed at children aren’t being responsibly marketed.

In February 2011. U.S. Congressman Edward J. Markey approached the FTC in response to growing concerns about Apple’s marketing practices of applications for kids on Apple devices.

The Federal Trade Commission quickly took up the case. “We fully share your concern that consumers, particularly children, are unlikely to understand the ramifications of these types of purchases,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz sain the spring of 2011.

On Monday, the AP confirmed, the FTC published its latest findings in a report that says it all: “Mobile Apps for Kids: Disclosures Still Not Making the Grade.”

Staff examined hundreds of apps for children and looked at disclosers and links on each app’s promotion page in the app store, on the app developer’s website, and within the app. According to the report, “most apps failed to provide any information about the data collected through the app, let alone the type of data collected, the purpose of the collection, and who would obtain access to the data. Even more troubling, the results showed that many of the apps shared certain information with third parties – such as device ID, geolocation, or phone number – without disclosing that fact to parents. Further, a number of apps contained interactive features – such as advertising, the ability to make in-app purchases, and links to social media – without disclosing these features to parents prior to download.”

The FTC says it will continue to probe and even use “non-public investigations to determine whether certain entities in the mobile app marketplace are violating” U.S. Federal laws.