Data Security: Google removes 3 popular children’s apps from Play Store

*The company discloses that collectively, the apps had accumulated more than 20 million downloads prior to their removal

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

For violating the tech giant’s policies regarding the collection of children’s data, Google has taken out three popular apps from the Google Play Store.

The apps that were removed were Princess Salon, Number Coloring, and Cats & Cosplay.

Agency report indicates that collectively, the apps had amassed more than 20 million downloads prior to being removed.

The International Digital Accountability Council (IDAC) determined that the apps, which were all aimed at younger users, violated “broader Google Play policies around data collection.”

The watchdog group notified Google of its findings, and Google swiftly removed the apps.

IDAC President Quentin Palfrey in a statement said: “The practices we observed in our research raised serious concerns about data practices within these apps.

“We applaud Google for taking steps to enforce on these apps and the third-party data practices within these apps.”

In connection with data-privacy violations, the researchers found that the apps were built upon problematic third-party frameworks, which collected Android ID and Android Advertising ID data.

The three software development kits (SDKs) used in the apps ─ Unity, Appodeal, and Umeng ─ made it possible for them to violate Google’s privacy protection regulations.

Palfrey said the IDAC found that certain versions of the Unity SDK were “collecting both the user’s AAID (unique user ID for advertising) and Android ID simultaneously, which may have allowed Unity to bypass privacy controls and track users over time and across devices.”

The Council disclosed that “Google took corrective action in response, after its own investigation.”

Report stated that the IDAC didn’t provide an estimate of how much data, if any, was taken as a result of the issues.

According to the group, no violations were discovered in iOS versions of the three apps.

Google said in a statement that “these apps broke rules barring the uses of developer kits that aren’t approved for ‘child-directed services.”

It’s in the process of establishing procedures to detect these kinds of violations before they end up on the Google Play store, said the tech giant.

The company added that it is working with privacy organisations to prevent developers from violating the rules.

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