Skip to navigation
Latest News

FTC: children's apps share "alarming" amount of data


By Stewart Mitchell

Posted on 11 Dec 2012 at 11:43

Apps designed for children are grabbing an "alarming" amount of private information without alerting parents, according to a report from the US Federal Trade Commission.

In a report - Mobile Apps for Kids: Disclosures Still Not Making the Grade - looking into children's apps and controls for parents, the FTC criticised app makers for failing to inform children and parents over information shared with ad networks, data analytics firms and other third parties.

"Our study shows that kids' apps siphon an alarming amount of information from mobile devices without disclosing this fact to parents," said FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz of results that included the Apple and Android platforms.

All of the companies in the mobile app space, especially the gatekeepers of the app stores, need to do a better job

"All of the companies in the mobile app space, especially the gatekeepers of the app stores, need to do a better job."

Of the 400 apps under scrutiny, only 20% warned about the privacy policies associated with the software on the app’s promotion page, on the developer website, or within the app.

"Even more troubling, the results showed that many of the apps shared certain information with third parties – such as device ID, geolocation, or phone number – without disclosing that fact to parents," the FTC said.

With almost one in five apps for children allowing in-app payments, the report also called on Apple and Google to do more to warn parents of the potential costs.

"Prices ranged from $0.99 to $29.99 - and although both stores provided certain indicators when an app contained in-app purchasing capabilities, these indicators were not always prominent and, even if noticed, could be difficult for many parents to understand."

Policy confusion

Some apps were deliberately misleading, with privacy policies that claimed not to share data, but were beaming a huge collection of information to third parties.

"One app that transmitted device ID, geolocation, and phone number to multiple advertising networks had a troubling privacy disclosure stating that the app does not share information with third parties," the FTC found.

The FTC also said the wording of privacy policies and notification made it hard to understand what they actually meant.

Subscribe to PC Pro magazine. We'll give you 3 issues for £1 plus a free gift - click here
User comments

whys so coy?

If these apps are doing what is claimed, why pussy foot around? Why not just name them? "One app transmitted..." WHICH app - tell us, why not?

By martindaler on 11 Dec 2012

windows phone

So far as I am aware, its part of the T&Cs of the marketplace that info like what services will be used by an App, are displayed and agreed to before the App can be installed.
But hey ho, it don't count if its not Apple or (Grudgingly) Google, some sections of the media, just don't care....

By nickallison on 12 Dec 2012

Leave a comment

You need to Login or Register to comment.



Most Commented News Stories
Latest Blog Posts Subscribe to our RSS Feeds
Latest ReviewsSubscribe to our RSS Feeds
Latest Real World Computing


Sponsored Links

Your email:

Your password:

remember me


Hitwise Top 10 Website 2010

PCPro-Computing in the Real World Printed from

Register to receive our regular email newsletter at

The newsletter contains links to our latest PC news, product reviews, features and how-to guides, plus special offers and competitions.