FTC Releases Alarming Report on Children Apps
There are hundreds of thousands of apps for everyone including kids.
But, some parents question if the apps protect their child's privacy.
A concerned mother, Temia Williams says, “You know as a mom you want to protect your kids and also protect my own safety and privacy so it does make me worry.”
According to the latest report by the Federal Trade Commission parents should be alarmed.
A report released in December 2012 shows hundreds of the most popular apps for children fail to notify parents about being exposed to advertising networks and other companies.
Out of 200 children app’s analyzed only 20 percent had any privacy disclosures. Nearly 60 percent tested to connect with third parties without first notifying parents.
For example, some apps transmit a child's phone number, precise location or a serial code from their mobile device to app developers without their parent's consent.
Attorney John Fowler says, “ The app makers are not telling parents anything. They are just out there and hope that everybody downloads their app or downloads their game or something like that. They don’t tell parents anything they just want kids to play the games so they can become more popular.”
Fowler, an attorney who's familiar with technology laws, says app developers protect themselves with disclaimers.
Fowler says, “In the apps they already have a set of rules that you have to agree to. Normally they are going to be 100-150 pages no one actually reads them.”
Still, Fowler says there are ways parents can protect their children.
“Number one thing you have to do is check your security settings. Not just on your iPad, not just on your iPhone but also on the specific apps,” said Fowler.
Fowler says parents should also limit the information they provide when downloading new apps. “There’s no need to have all of that in there and so take it off don’t put it in there.”
Some parents monitor their kids while they're being entertained by tablets.
Mother of two, Linda Pirozzi says, “I think every time I’ve ever seen them on the iPhones or iPad they've had someone looking over their shoulder.”
Temia Williams says, “A lot of times when he's playing the games I make sure that he is with me, so I can supervise him and make sure he is not on something that he shouldn’t be on .”
Fowler says there are laws in the works to hold app developers responsible.
Fowler says, “The Federal Government continues to try and pass laws to do things to limit what electronic companies can do. But the reality is that there are lobbies and computer lobbies are incredibly strong.”
In the meantime, Fowler encourages parents to be proactive.
Fowler says, “They have to abide by different laws they have different things that they can do. And realistically even if they can or can’t get away with it, ultimately it’s our responsibility to look after our kids. And make sure that they are safe.”