Bloomberg News

Apple, Android Apps Must Provide More Child Data, FTC Says

February 21, 2012

(Updates with FTC chairman’s comment in third paragraph.)

Feb. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Makers and sellers of mobile applications through Apple Inc.’s Apple Store and Google Inc.’s Android Market must improve disclosures to parents about personal information collected about their children, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said.

The FTC issued the recommendations today in a report based on a survey of mobile applications for children.

“Right now, it is almost impossible to figure out which apps collect data and what they do with it,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a statement. Companies must “provide easily accessible, basic information, so that parents can make informed decisions about the apps their kids use,” he said.

As underage smartphone users increasingly download mobile applications, their parents lack information about what kind of data is being collected about their children and what it’s being used for, the FTC said in the report.

A mobile application can capture a range of information stored on the downloading device, including the user’s location, phone number and contact lists, and can share this data with third parties, the FTC said.

Chris Gaither, a spokesman for Mountain View, California- based Google, and Natalie Kerris, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, California-based Apple, didn’t immediately respond to e-mails requesting comment on the FTC report.

The FTC enforces the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule, also known as COPPA. The rule requires operators of online services, including interactive mobile apps, to provide notice and get parental consent before collecting information from children under 13.

In the next six months, FTC staff will conduct an additional review to determine whether some mobile apps violate COPPA, the FTC said.

--Editors: Stephen Farr, Mary Romano

To contact the reporter on this story: Sara Forden in Washington at sforden@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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