The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act protects personal information about children from being accessed or shared without parental consent. Specifically protected by COPPA is geo-location data, browsing history, photos, video and audio files of children under 13. However, Android apps are unnecessarily monitoring the location of children.
Developers and companies admit there are many applications for smart phones and tablets targeted at small children. The apps are designed to both educate and entertain children. This is a good thing. These app have no use for location information yet still gather it. Why would a counting game or alphabet game need to know where the child using it is? The information has no functional necessity to the app.
So why collect it, especially when it’s illegal to do so? As it turns out it is not only location information being collected. Some of these children’s apps also collect browser history and usage files – all illegal to access without parental consent. The data is being sold to aggressive advertisers trying to target their ad campaigns. Yet COPPA also bans “behavioral advertising” aimed at minors without parental consent.
According to a Bitdefender’s “Kids & Online Threats” study children get their first Android device as early as 5 years old. The survey was made of more than 2,000 parents all around the world.
Privacy laws have been completely ineffective in protecting us from government snooping. So why are we surprised when an overly business friendly government won’t enforce privacy laws against corporations?