In its new report, Mobile Apps for Kids: Current Privacy Disclosures are Disappointing, the Federal Trade Commission issues a “warning call to industry that it must do more to provide parents with easily accessible, basic information about the mobile apps that their children use.” The report indicates:
“Parents should be able to learn what information an app collects, how the information will be used, and with whom the information will be shared. App developers also should alert parents if the app connects with any social media, or allows targeted advertising to occur through the app. Third parties that collect user information through apps also should disclose their privacy practices, whether through a link on the app promotion page, the developers’ disclosures, or another easily accessible method.”
The report also urges developers and other industry participants to develop ways to inform parents of this information when it is most useful: before the time of download.
The report is based on the FTC’s survey of hundreds of mobile apps, and it focuses on the disclosures provided to users regarding their data practices. The FTC did not yet test whether and how the selected apps actually collected, used or disclosed personal information from children. The report indicates that during the coming months, the FTC “will conduct an additional review to determine whether there are COPPA violations and whether enforcement is appropriate,” and the FTC also will evaluate whether the industry is moving forward to address the disclosure issues raised in the report.