Pixalate finds privacy issues with child-directed apps from Google, Apple

privacy concerns - Pixalate

Nearly half of all child-directed apps request access to personal information, new research from fraud protection, privacy, and compliance analytics platform Pixalate has found.

The report, which compared apps from Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store, found significantly more child-directed apps available via Apple had no detected privacy policy – despite Apple’s more rigid stance on issues such as cookies.

Child Privacy in Apps – Pixalate analysis

Pixalate analysed apps available to download in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store directed at children, comparing them to key issues in the US Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

In total, Pixalate discovered around 379,000 child-directed mobile apps across both stores.

In the categories examined, Google’s offerings were, on average, safer for children, than on the App Store. 

The most stark contrast was that 22% of child-directed apps on the Apple App Store had no detected privacy policy, compared to 12% on the Google Play Store.

Many of the apps were also significantly invasive. More than 4,500 of the apps across both stores had an undetected privacy policy and requested access to a device’s camera, while a further 2,008 had an undetected privacy policy and transmitted GPS. 

Most worryingly, 292 apps had an undetected privacy policy, requested access to personal information, and transmitted both GPS and IP.

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of all child-directed apps had either no country of registration or a country of registration that was not identifiable by Pixalate.