The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), passed in 1998, governs the sort of data that can be collected from children under the age of 13. That’s why kids have to age themselves prematurely to create accounts on some social media networks. It’s a law kids under the age of 13 subvert every day, but it’s in place to protect kids from online services and restricts information collected by apps and online services that cater to children.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of app developers ignoring this law. A recently-published research paper shows a host of violations and questionable practices that smartphone/tablet app developers are engaged in. Serge Egelman, one of the paper’s co-authors, notes that thousands of apps are violating this law every day. In just one example, an advertising SDK (software development kit) made by ironSource is harvesting personal data from 466 child-directed apps.
It’s not as though this is a simple oversight. In an earlier blog post