Data privacy risks in child-targeted Android apps worldwide
With many children’s apps lacking transparency in the data-safety and privacy practices, these apps may also be engaging in invasive practices, potentially exposing children to exploitative advertising and even criminal activity. Incogni analyzed the 10 most popular child-targeted apps from 59 countries and found that half of these apps extensively collect children’s data, and many don’t follow the best data privacy guidelines.
In today’s world, where kids spend so much of their free time on mobile devices, keeping them and their personal information safe becomes a challenge. Insufficient parental supervision can facilitate the exposure of children’s data, not only for marketing purposes but also for malicious and criminal activity targeting children.
Incogni, a leading personal information removal service, has conducted an analysis of child-targeted Android apps, shedding light on concerning data privacy practices prevalent in children’s apps globally.
The data was gathered and analyzed for the 10 most popular child-targeted apps from 59 countries, which yielded a total of 74 unique apps—primarily games. The investigation focused on the data safety sections of these apps on the Google Play Store.
The 34 data-collecting apps gather data from an average of 5.7 data points and share from an average of 2.8 data categories. Notably, 11 apps were recognized as particularly data-hungry, collecting 7 or more data points, with five collecting 10 or more, mainly their users’ approximate location (4), email addresses (8), photos (2), and purchase histories (8). These 11 apps accounted for 55% of all data points collected by the investigated apps, including analytics, app functionality, fraud prevention, and advertising/marketing.
Almost all data-collecting apps claimed to encrypt data and remain committed to the Google Play Families Policy. However, only 62% of data-collecting apps allowed users to request the deletion of their data.