Google has removed three apps for children from Play Store after they were caught violating the platform’s data collection policies. The three apps that have been removed are — Princess Salon, Number Coloring and Cats & Cosplay.
“We can confirm that the apps referenced in the report were removed,” a Google spokesperson told TechCrunch. “Whenever we find an app that violates our policies, we take action.”
The Californian tech-giant took the stringent action after the International Digital Accountability Council (IDAC), a Boston-based non-profit organization. Apparently, these three apps mostly used by a younger audience have been leaking user data to third parties using Software Development Toolkit (SDKs). The news is huge considering that these apps combined downloads were more than 20 million.
“The practices we observed in our research raised serious concerns about data practices within these apps,” said IDAC president Quentin Palfrey.
These apps used games for kids learning and it is yet to be known how many users’ data has been exposed. On the other hand, Google Play Store and Apple App Store have strict laws compared to other apps as kids’ data is sensitive.
Meanwhile, IDAC will continue to monitor the apps as they are still downloadable via APK sites. The three SDKs used by app developers include Unity 3D, Umeng and Appodeal.
“If AAID information is transmitted in tandem with a persistent identifier [such as Android ID] it’s possible for the protection measures that Google puts in place for privacy protection to be bridged,” Palfrey added.
Of late, Google has also deleted a number of apps that were infected by Joker Malware as it would initiate payments for unwanted premium subscriptions without the user’s knowledge. It is advised to delete these apps if not done already. Also, with kids learning from home due to the pandemic there is a need to monitor the kind of apps they download even if they look as harmless as a simple puzzle app.
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