Apple's App Store and Google's Android Market don't provide enough information on what the data applications that they offer collect on children who use their software.
Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) App Store nor Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android Market
provide enough information about what data their nearly 1 billion mobile
applications collect from children who use their software, according to the
Federal Trade Commission.
The FTC's survey of
mobile apps for children shows
that app stores and app developers don't
provide the information parents need to determine what data apps are taking
from their kids, how the data is being used and by whom. This is not sitting
well with the agency, which cites protecting children's privacy as one of its
of what data apps access and how they use it became an issue for adult users
this past week. Social network service Path admitted it stored iPhone users'
phone address book data on its servers without obtaining permission from users.
Foursquare and Foodspotting and other iPhone apps makers did something similar.
After Congressmen complained, Apple
that any app seeking to access contact data would require explicit
user approval in the future.
The FTC meanwhile
studied the disclosures apps targeted to children provide about data those
includes users' geo-location, phone numbers, contact lists and other data
stored on the device, as well as ratings and parental controls for several apps
in the App Store, which has more than 500,000 apps, and the Android Market,
which has roughly 380,000 programs.
there was a diverse pool of kids apps created by hundreds of different
developers, there was almost no information about the data collection and
sharing on the Apple App store promotion pages and little information beyond
general permission statements on the Android Market promotion pages," the FTC wrote
instances, staff was unable to determine from the information on the app store
page or the developer's landing page whether an app collected any data, let
alone the type of data collected, the purpose for such collection, and who . .
. obtained access to such data."
Jon Leibowitz wrote in a statement that companies that operate in the mobile
market must provide easily accessible, basic information so that parents can
make informed decisions about apps before they download software for their
The FTC is
urging app stores, developers and third parties providing services to inform
parents about what data apps collect on kids.
app publishers should provide plain-spoken, brief information on their data
practices, including whether or not their software connects with social
networks and/or contains ads.
stores, such as Apple's App Store and Google's Android Market, should provide a
mechanism for sharing pricing and category data, as well as a venue for
developers to provide information about their data-collection and -sharing