- The Washington Times - Friday, October 23, 2020

Google has removed three apps aimed at children from its Google Play store because of the apps’ improper data collection that violated company policies, according to a report.

The three apps — Cats & Cosplay, Number Coloring and Princess Salon — appeared benevolent but were discovered by researchers at the International Digital Accountability Council (IDAC) to have violated Google’s data collection policies, according to TechCrunch.

“Whenever we find an app that violates our policies, we take action,” a Google spokesperson said in an email.

At least one of the apps, Cats & Cosplay, appears to be available for download from Apple’s App Store, as of Friday afternoon.

Last month, IDAC published a report raising concerns about educational technology apps used by parents and schools to supplement their children’s learning amid social distancing requirements interrupting in-person education.

IDAC investigated nearly 500 ed tech apps across 22 countries and reported that the companies generally attempted to provide privacy protections, but IDAC had lingering concerns about several security risks.

For example, IDAC said it had concerns about how the ed tech apps it studied shared users’ location data with third parties, how users’ personal data may be exposed, and how a large number of third-party entities were permitted to collect user information.

“Our investigation concludes that, while most ed tech apps we tested act in ways that align with users’ privacy expectations, there are gaps that developers and platforms should review and remedy in order to promote user trust and encourage widespread adoption,” the IDAC report read.

IDAC’s report said educational technology companies must provide transparency about their privacy practices in order for schools, teachers and parents to take steps to mitigate the risks.

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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