FTC criticizes kids’ apps privacy practices

The Federal Trade Commission has issued a report criticizing the privacy practices of the makers of kids apps in Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Market. Titled “Mobile Apps for Kids: Disclosures Still Not Making the Grade,” the FTC report found almost 60 percent of 400 popular kids apps transmitted device information to the developer or another third party, such as an advertising network. Only 20 percent of the apps reviewed disclosed any information regarding privacy practices.

Also, 17 percent of apps reviewed offered the ability to purchase virtual goods within the app — with in-app purchases ranging from 99 cents to $29.99 in the App Store. “The results of the survey are disappointing,” the report reads. “Industry appears to have made little or no progress in improving its disclosures since the first kids’ app survey was conducted, and the new survey confirms that undisclosed sharing is occurring on a frequent basis.” The FTC’s previous report was issued in February.

The report’s conclusion calls on everyone involved in the app marketplace to develop accurate disclosures regarding shared data. It also notes that “FTC staff has initiated a number of investigations to address the gaps between company practices and disclosures. These discrepancies could constitute violations of COPPA or the FTC Act’s prohibition against unfair or deceptive practices.” [via The Wall Street Journal]