How Private is Your Kid’s Mobile Usage?

advertising, links to social media, or the option to purchase goods with real dollars. The FTC found 58 percent of the apps contained advertising within the app, but only 15 percent disclosed it prior to download. Twenty-two percent of the apps contain access to social networking services, while only 9 percent disclosed the links. Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Google+ were the two most popular social networking integration features, being found in 10.4 percent and 9.1 percent of the apps, respectively. LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD) was the least commonly found at 0.3 percent. Prices paid for virtual goods ranged from only 99 cents to as much as $29.99.

The report urges all those involved in the app ecosystem to speed up efforts to make sure parents have access to key information needed to make decisions about which apps they download for their kids. The FTC recommends incorporating privacy protections into the design of mobile offerings, providing easy-to-understand choices, and providing more transparency about how data is shared. In addition, the agency is launching non-public investigations to determine whether some entities are violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or deceptive practices in violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act.

As of September 2012, there were over 700,00 apps available in Apple’s App Store, representing a 40 percent surge since December 2011. There are also more than 700,000 apps in Google Play, a whopping 80 percent increase since the beginning of the year. Any changes to the privacy practices could have a significant impact. A recent Pew study found that 54 percent of app users did not install an app once they knew how much personal information would be collected. Another 30 percent of app users said they uninstalled an app because of privacy issues.

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