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Its recent study shows only 20 percent of apps inform the user about its data collection intentions

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) conducted a study that has raised concerns over mobile applications for children that fail to disclose data collection and transmission to parents.

The FTC study took a look at 400 children's apps currently available in Apple's App Store and the Google Play store for Android. Out of these 400 apps, about 60 percent of them collected and transmitted information about the device to developers. Out of that 60 percent, only 20 percent gave a disclaimer about their data collection.

“We haven’t seen any progress when it comes to making sure parents have the information they need to make informed choices about apps for their kids,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said. “All of the companies in the mobile app space, especially the gatekeepers of the app stores, need to do a better job.”

The FTC added that other app-related issues, like in-app advertising and in-app purchasing, needs to be reviewed and corrected in children's apps as well.

The FTC also said that app developers and app stores have committed to making apps more child-friendly in the past, but they need to do more.

Back in February 2011, Rep. Edward J. Markey (Mass.) and Sens. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Mark Pryor (Ark.) submitted letters to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz asking for thorough inspection of free children's games by companies such as Pocket Gems and Capcom Interactive. The reason? Developers of free children's games on Apple's iPhone had been charging users for items found throughout the games, but these in-app price tags have not been made clear to those purchasing the games.

While these purchases cannot be made without a password, parents argue that it has become too easy for children to figure it out and that safeguards are not strong enough to stop them from purchasing the items found in these games.

Just last week, Amazon unveiled Amazon's new Kindle FreeTime Unlimited content service for kids, which brings together multiple content types including books, games, educational apps, movies, and TV shows into a simple and easy-to-use service aimed at children age 3 to 8. Even better, none of the apps offered in the service have in-app payments, advertisements, or social media links, and Amazon exclusive Android apps and games are all curated for age appropriateness.

Source: The Wall Street Journal





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