In the children’s gaming app Doctor Kids, a popular purchase in the Google and Amazon app stores, kids get to play doctor in a children’s hospital. They clean patients’ teeth as a dentist, straighten crooked bones inside an X-ray scan, and play optometrist by helping kids with blurry vision find the right prescription glasses, all against a backdrop of brightly colored characters and a twinkling soundtrack.
Until suddenly, the game is interrupted. A bubble pops up with a new mini game idea, and when a child clicks on the bubble, they are invited to purchase it for $1.99, or unlock all new games for $3.99. There’s a red X button to cancel the pop-up, but if the child clicks on it, the character on the screen shakes its head, looks sad, and even begins to cry.
Read more at: https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2018/10/30/18044678/kids-apps-gaming-manipulative-ads-ftc
In our study of kids’ Android apps, we observed that a majority of apps specifically targeted at kids may be violating U.S. privacy law: the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). In response to this revelation, many companies that we named in our paper have responded by stating that they are not covered by the law because either their apps are not directed at children or they have no knowledge that any of their users are children. As a broader issue, we have also noticed that many companies appear to turn a blind eye to COPPA compliance by stating in their privacy policies that their obviously-child-directed apps are not directed at children.
As I’ll explain in this post, these excuses are disingenuous at best and outright lies at worst: for every app that we examined, the developer took proactive steps to market their apps to children under 13, and therefore appear to be subject to COPPA because their apps are “directed” at children.
Read more at: https://blog.appcensus.io/2018/05/08/our-childrens-apps-arent-directed-at-children/
The link to the relative paper: https://blues.cs.berkeley.edu/blog/2018/04/25/wont-somebody-think-of-the-children-examining-coppa-compliance-at-scale/
What is the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule?
Congress enacted the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) in 1998. COPPA required the Federal Trade Commission to issue and enforce regulations concerning children’s online privacy. The Commission’s original COPPA Rule became effective on April 21, 2000. The Commission issued an amended Rule on December 19, 2012. The amended Rule took effect on July 1, 2013.
The primary goal of COPPA is to place parents in control over what information is collected from their young children online. The Rule was designed to protect children under age 13 while accounting for the dynamic nature of the Internet. The Rule applies to operators of commercial websites and online services (including mobile apps) directed to children under 13 that collect, use, or disclose personal information from children, and operators of general audience websites or online services with actual knowledge that they are collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from children under 13. The Rule also applies to websites or online services that have actual knowledge that they are collecting personal information directly from users of another website or online service directed to children. Read more at: