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Federal Trade Commission and Apps for Kids

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a second staff report on privacy and “apps” for kids, Mobile Apps for Kids: Disclosures Still Not Making the Grade. This report does not suggest a rulemaking on this issue, but rather makes recommendations to those involved in the industry. Agency actions will involve developing consumer educational material and investigations into whether current laws are being violated.

The industry recommendations are:

  • Incorporating privacy protections into the design of mobile products and services;
  • Offering parents easy-to-understand choices about the data collection and sharing through kids’ apps; and
  • Providing greater transparency about how data is collected, used, and shared through kids’ apps. See, New Release 12/10/12

These recommendations are based on FTC staff looking at disclosures and internal links of apps created for children. They found that there was little to no disclosure about data collection and distribution. Apps often collect and share information such as the geolocation of the device. Also, a number of these apps link to social media and to additional app sales. These in-apps links are not disclosed prior to download either.

For a discussion of the report see PBS Newshour, How to Protect Against the Dangers of Mobile Apps That Gather Kids’ Data 12/11/12.