On Friday, the Federal Trade Commission today issued a staff report that could be of great concern to many parents who have children with acecss to mobile phone applications.
The survey shows that neither the app stores nor the app developers provide the information parents need to determine what data is being collected from their children, how it is being shared, or who will have access to it.
“At the FTC, one of our highest priorities is protecting children’s privacy, and parents deserve the tools to help them do that,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “Companies that operate in the mobile marketplace provide great benefits, but they must step up to the plate and provide easily accessible, basic information, so that parents can make informed decisions about the apps their kids use. Right now, it is almost impossible to figure out which apps collect data and what they do with it. The kids app ecosystem needs to wake up, and we want to work collaboratively with industry to help ensure parents have the information they need.”
The FTC is once again raising questions that we at MMW frequently hear from parents and others in the mobile app world.
According to the FTC report, in 2008, smartphone users could choose from about 600 available apps. Today there are more than 500,000 apps in the Apple App Store and 380,000 in the Android Market. “Consumers have downloaded these apps more than 28 billion times, and young children and teens are increasingly embracing smartphone technology for entertainment and educational purposes.”
The report notes that mobile apps can capture a broad range of user information from a mobile device automatically, including the user’s precise geolocation, phone number, list of contacts, call logs, unique identifiers, and other information stored on the device.
At the same time, “the report highlights the lack of information available to parents prior to downloading mobile apps for their children, and calls on industry to provide greater transparency about their data practices.”
To read the full report, click here.
Does the FTC report change your view regarding children using mobile apps?