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Privacy still a major concern for kids' mobile games, says FTC

Privacy still a major concern for kids' mobile games, says FTC

December 11, 2012 | By Mike Rose

December 11, 2012 | By Mike Rose
More: Smartphone/Tablet, Business/Marketing

The Federal Trade Commission, an independent government agency focused on protecting consumer rights, has stated that mobile apps and games aimed at children are not doing enough to address privacy concerns.

The organization says that kids' apps are not giving enough information to parents about the data that they collect, how it is being shared, or who will have access to it.

As part of a new report [PDF], the FTC also notes that many games aimed at kids connect to social media, and share information like device IDs and geolocations with third party companies, without disclosing this information to parents.

Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the FTC, explained, "While we think most companies have the best intentions when it comes to protecting kids 'privacy, 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."

"In fact, our study shows that kids' apps siphon an alarming amount of information from mobile devices without disclosing this fact to parents," he continued. "All of the companies in the mobile app space, especially the gatekeepers of the app stores, need to do a better job. We'll do another survey in the future and we will expect to see improvement."

For example, of the apps and games surveyed, the organization found that only 15 percent disclosed the presence of ads prior to download.

Meanwhile, the company also reiterated that in-app purchases in kids' apps were poorly indicated, and that warnings about possible purchases that children could make "could be difficult for many parents to understand."

This follows Apple's legal trouble earlier this year, as a judge ruled to uphold a handful of claims that the company distributed free apps that trick children into money in-app purchases.

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