These three children’s apps violated the data collection policies of the Play Store and harvested sensitive data like geolocation.
It was researchers from the International Digital Accountability Council (IDAC), an independent organization whose objective is to improve the accountability of digital players, who shed light on the practices of these three applications.
A collection made possible by the use of certain development kits
Princess Salon, Number Coloring, and Cats & Cosplay are three apps for children that enjoyed great popularity with 20 million total users on Android devices.
According to IDAC experts, the application code is not in question but specifically the SDKs used for their design. The software uses the Unity game engine, Umeng, an analytics system designed by Alibaba and Appodeal that offers tools to improve the monetization of an application.
The SDKs would have collected the AAID ( Android Advertising ID ) of the users or the advertising identifiers linked to a device. Associated with other personal information, such as Android ID, users can then be tracked precisely in their web browsing or in the use of their phone.
Google strictly regulates the collection of information in children’s apps
This data collection is however strictly prohibited by Google when it comes, as with these three software, applications for children, and these development kits should not have been used.
Google reacted quickly after learning of the elements provided by the IDAC and removed the three applications from its store. However, the organization is not in a position to quantify the amount of information collected by this software.
Creative APPS and Libii Tech, the publishers of two of the three retired apps, still have several apps available on the Play Store. The iOS versions of Princess Salon, Number Coloring, and Cats & Cosplay are still available on the App Store, but at first glance, they don’t seem to pick up as much information about their young users.