Google Axes Three Children’s Apps For Data Collection Violations
Google has been forced to remove three children’s gaming apps from the Play Store for allegedly violating its data collection policies by tracking users over time and across different devices.
The apps – Princess Salon, Number Colouring and Cats & Cosplay – allegedly bypassed privacy controls via software development kits (SDKs) used within them, named Unity, Appodel and Umeng.
The International Digital Accountability Council, a non-profit privacy watchdog, reportedly informed Google of the violations and the tech giant subsequently took corrective action.
“IDAC’s tests revealed that certain versions of the Unity, Appodeal, and Umeng SDKs were not in compliance with broader Google Play policies around data collection,” the IDAC said in a statement.
“Among other things, IDAC’s tests highlighted that certain versions of Unity’s SDK were collecting both the user’s AAID and Android ID simultaneously, which may have allowed Unity to bypass privacy controls and track users over time and across devices.”
After being alerted by IDAC, the Google Play team started its own investigation and took action against the app to protect users.
According to TechCrunch, Princess Salon, Number Colouring and Cats & Cosplay had over 20 million downloads combined in the Play Store.
If the apps were indeed collecting data from children under the age of 13, it is a violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, a law that bans operators of online services from collecting information of children without parental consent.