Google pulls down 3 children apps from Play Store due to data collection violation

The report added that all the three apps are still available for download as APK files.

Google has removed three Android apps targeted at children from its Play Store after a report pointed out that these violated the data collection policies of the tech giant. A non-profit organisation, the International Digital Accountability Council (IDAC), conducted research and found that these apps were getting access to the Android Advertising ID (AAID) numbers and Android ID numbers of the users, which is against Google’s policy.

Google Play Store. Image: tech2

Google Play Store. Image: tech2

The three said apps, namely Princess Salon, Number Coloring and Cats & Cosplay had over 20 million downloads jointly on the Google Play Store and have been removed from the store now. Google has confirmed the same to a tech portal, Tech Crunch. “Whenever we find an app that violates our policies, we take action,” a company spokesperson told the portal.

The report added that all the three apps remain available for download as APK files. Also, these are live on the iOS App Store. But IDAC has maintained that they have not found similar data collection issues with the apps on iOS. Explaining the threat, IDAC president Quentin Palfrey said the information collected via AIID is put together with an identifier like Android ID, a user’s privacy remains unprotected despite Google’s policies.

The apps targeted at children have to abide by different sets of guidelines. According to Tech Spot, in the domain of user data collection, designers of kids’ apps are required to disclose to Google if their app will be collecting any personal identifiable information. The data includes those collected through application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs).

On the other hand, Facebook is also being investigated by the main data privacy regulator in the European Union, Data Protection Commissioner (DPC), in Ireland over its handling of children's data on Instagram. DPC had reportedly received complaints saying that Instagram had made the phone numbers and email addresses of users under 18 public.


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