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February 17, 2012

FTC demands greater transparency on mobile apps for kids

App developers should provide data practices information in simple and short disclosures, says the US consumer protection watchdog

By CBR Staff Writer

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) demanded that companies developing mobile applications, the stores and third parties must beef up their privacy policies to ensure that parents have information on what data is collected by their children using mobile devices and how it is used and shared, according to a latest report.

FTC report, ‘Mobile Apps for Kids: Current Privacy Disclosures Are Disappointing,’ shows that neither the app stores nor the developers provide the information parents need to determine what data is being collected from their children, how it is being used, or who will have access to it, according to Reuters.

FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz said companies that operate in the mobile marketplace provide great benefits, but they must step up to the plate and provide easily accessible, basic information, so that parents can make informed decisions about the apps their kids use.

"Right now, it is almost impossible to figure out which apps collect data and what they do with it. The kids app ecosystem needs to wake up, and we want to work collaboratively with industry to help ensure parents have the information they need," Leibowitz stated.

In 2008, smartphone users could choose from only about 600 available apps compared with more than 500,000 apps in the Apple App Store and 380,000 in the Android Market today, according to US consumer protection watchdog.

The report stated 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 called on industry to provide greater transparency about their data practices and stated that app developers should provide data practices information in simple and short disclosures.

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