Children’s mobile apps may collect personal data

As a new generation comes online, Connecticut Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns parents that mobile applications for smartphones and tablets are siphoning children’s data and sharing it. In most cases, the applications’ developers do not disclose whether data is being collected, with whom it is being shared or how it is used.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a study called “Mobile Apps for Kids — Disclosures Still Not Making the Grade,” nearly 60% of children’s applications available from the iTunes store and Google Play that were examined by researchers “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.”

The data collected and shared can include the child’s location, telephone number, contacts, device ID, and other information contained in the mobile device. More worrying, according to the FTC, is that some applications offer the ability to make purchases and provide links to social media “without disclosing these features prior to download.”

Connecticut Better Business Bureau recommends parents take steps to protect their children’s and families’ personal information.

Research before downloading; consider avoiding free apps; control kids’ sharing; determine whether applications allow young users to post their own content to social media sites; and decide whether it is appropriate to allow your children to do so before downloading an app.

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