FTC issues warning about cell phone privacy, child safety
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently released a report explaining that Apple and Android application creators need to tell parents about the personal information they collect from children when they purchase apps, according to The Associated Press.
Currently, children are able to download applications on their mobile devices without parental consent. The app can ask for the child’s location, phone number, list of friends and recent call logs. The FTC is not only blaming the developers, but also the application stores for selling them.
“As gatekeepers of the app marketplace, the app stores should do more,” the report said. “This recommendation applies not just to Apple and Google, but also to other companies that provide a marketplace for kids’ mobile apps.”
Apple has yet to comment on the report, however Google, who runs the Android software, issued a statement addressing the subject. The company said that they it has an “industry-leading permission system,” which asks for approval before installation. In addition, it offers parental controls for the application developers to follow while they are designing the game.
According to Bloomberg, the FTC is going to continue to investigate for the next six months to ensure that application providers are not violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule, which requires that all online providers offer notice and receive parental consent before they can obtain any information from children who are younger than 13 years old.
“While the mobile app marketplace keeps growing, mobile privacy keeps shrinking,” James Steyer, chief executive officer of Common Sense Media, a San Francisco-based advocate for internet safety for families, told the news source. “There are now more than 1 million mobile apps in the marketplace, but the FTC study shows that virtually none provides tools or information that help users manage their privacy and personal information.”
Parents may want to sit down with their children to talk about various problems that could arise due to giving out personal information. They should also discuss appropriate behavior for using cell phones or computers. Those who are concerned their children are participating in bad behavior may want to look into parental control software, which allows the parent to see what their child is doing.