A child looks at an iPad mini at the Apple Store during Black Friday in San Francisco (Photo : Reuters)
The emerging app market has attracted countless developers in recent years, as the rise of smartphones continues to catapult mobile software revenues higher and higher. However, with opportunity arrives danger, and the Federal Trade Commission has picked up on the industry's scent. At issue is the lack of standard privacy measures among apps targeted at children, and the free exchange of data which has been mined from adolescents' devices.
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In a study, the FTC found that 60 percent of childrens apps available on iOS and Android platforms shared data about a user's mobile device with other developers and third parties," reports the Los Angeles Times
Privacy lawyer Lisa Sotto of Hunton & Williams suggests that "If the FTC will be naming names, that is real incentive to issue a fully compliant privacy notice. There is no question that the apps community will pay attention."
Legislation from 1998 known as the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) is now back in the limelight, as the commission is urged to update its provisions in light of today's technological realities.
Morgan Reed of the Association of Competitive Technology argues that "This report reminds us how important it is for the industry to focus on educating developers on privacy best practices."
The app ecosystem is in its infancy, and growing pains are to be expected. The fine line between necessary data collection and responsible privacy measures will not emerge unless these conversations take place.