The FTC Warns Developers of Children's Mobile Apps Concerning Their Failure to Adequately Disclose their Data Practices to Parents


On February 16, 2012, the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") released a report ("FTC Report") admonishing developers of mobile applications ("apps") directed to children for failing to adequately disclose their data practices on their app store pages and the first page ("landing page") of their websites prior to parents and users downloading the apps. The FTC Report was based on a survey carried out by the FTC where FTC staff reviewed the app Store pages and developer landing pages of 200 Android apps and 200 Apple apps for the apps data collection and sharing practices. According to its findings, although 76% of Android apps required at least one "permission" allowing the app to collect data from the mobile device while the app is running, only three (1.5%) of the 200 Android apps provided some information about their data practices on the app pages by describing what the permissions were being used for. None of the Apple apps provided any information about their data practices on the app pages. In addition, only two (0.5%) out of the 400 app store pages reviewed linked to landing pages that disclosed information about data collection and sharing. The FTC was clearly troubled by these findings, calling it a warning call to the industry to provide greater transparency about their data practices to parents. The call for greater disclosure is consistent with the initiatives of the Obama administration to force business to provide greater transparency concerning privacy and data practices.

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