TrustArc Blog

Regulators Find Apps & Websites Aimed at Children Show Lack of Privacy Controls

September 04, 2015

Family computer

This week, regulators published the findings from their annual global privacy sweep which reviewed the privacy practices of nearly 1,500 apps and websites aimed at children. The review found that 67 percent harvested personal information, while only 31 percent employed controls. The investigation was conducted by the Global Privacy Enforcement Network in May and involved 29 data protection regulators.

“The attitude shown by a number of these websites and apps suggested little regard for how anyone’s personal information should be handled, let alone that of children,” said Adam Stevens of the UK Information Commissioner’s Office.

The FTC posted a response on its blog on Sept. 3 written by a couple officials from the Bureau of Consumer Protection, Office of Technology Research and Investigation.

After the sweep, Alberta Canada’s privacy commissioner immediately spearheaded a privacy education program for all Canadian students in grades 7-8. Canadian Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien added that a small number of websites and apps “did not collect any personal information at all, demonstrating it is possible to have a successful, appealing and dynamic product that is also child friendly and worry-free for parents.”

The FTC posted details of the U.S. findings on its blog yesterday highlighting some areas of progress.

“Our December 2012 kids’ app survey found that only 20% of apps had a link to a privacy policy available to parents before downloading the app. Developers are now doing a better job, with more than 45% including a direct link to their privacy policy on their app store pageFor many kids’ apps, however, parents still don’t have an easy way to learn about their data collection and usage practices.”

Earlier this year, we released our Privacy Index study focused on children’s privacy, which collected the opinions of U.S. and British adults. Our findings showed that 44 percent of American parents and 43 percent of British parents have been asked to give their consent for an online account created by their child. Fifty-eight percent of American parents and 54 percent of British parents said they are concerned about their children’s privacy online.

See more stats from the U.S. TRUSTe survey and the U.K. TRUSTe survey.

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