Cross-posted on the K-12 Cybersecurity Resource Center blog: https://k12cybersecure.com/.
As quoted in:
Herold, Benjamin. “Thousands of Android Mobile Apps Improperly Track Children, Study Says.” Education Week. 13 April 2018.
“This [“‘Won’t Somebody Think of the Children?’ Examining COPPA Compliance at Scale“] is an important study because it sheds light on the invisible background collection of information about users that many people in education are not aware of,” said Douglas A. Levin of EdTech Strategies, a consulting group that has looked closely at the issue of ad-tracking on school district and state education websites.
“It would be warranted for the Federal Trade Commission to pursue these findings and make a clear statement about the legality of this kind of tracking,” Levin said.
But from a practical perspective, said Levin of EdTech Strategies, the researchers have highlighted just how significant the children’s-online-privacy challenge is in the mobile age.
“We know that young children are increasingly relying on mobile apps—even services that may not have expressly been designed for them—for learning,” Levin said.
“When their children are using those apps, parents should have a reasonable expectation of privacy.”
Which companies have apps that are flagged for privacy invasions by the study authors? Among others (in no particular order):
- Khan Academy*
- PBS Kids
- McGraw-Hill Education
You can review the full list of Android apps examined by the researchers at this website: https://www.appcensus.mobi/. There very well may be others that children you know may use, too, that I missed flagging.
* denotes signatory of the Student Privacy Pledge (as of April 18, 2018).