In a staff report released yesterday the FTC investigates the level to which App vendors are disclosing the types of data they collect on children and how that information is used. The report is worth a good review as it highlights the general lack of notice provided to parents in the majority of Apps reviewed. A total of 960 Apps specifically targeting children were reviewed with the total volume split evenly between Apple iOS and the Android platforms.
Some highlights from the report:
- Overall the FTC found that there was very little disclosure performed regarding what data is collected and how it is used.
- The FTC correctly identifies that both the App creator as well as the App store can play a role in defining the type of data collected and how it is used. Parents need more information communicated in a clear and concise manner prior to App download.
- The FTC calls for the App stores to standardize on the disclosure data as well as the location within the app store itself to provide easy and consistent access for Parents. The report goes on to say that the majority of disclosure fell on the individual App vendor to perform.
- Social media functionality as well as in-app purchasing features are specifically highlighted as critical functionality that requires clear disclosure.
- Content ratings are not standardized across the App stores and largely left to the App vendor to define.
Although none of the Apps were functionally tested to empirically measure the privacy impact, it's still great to see the FTC continuing their focus on our children. This report stands in firm support of the COPPA legislation and furthers the dialog necessary to better protect children online.