Privacy concerns have been on a rise with the introduction of digital technology while children are apparently more vulnerable than adults to privacy online threats as they lack digital skills or awareness of privacy risks. Taking this into account Google has removed three apps from the Play Store that are popular among children. These apps were turned down after a report by the International Digital Accountability Council (IDAC) over privacy violations. The three apps are Princess Salon, Number Coloring, and Cats & Cosplay. All these apps have more than 20 million downloads on Google Play Store.
According to a report by International Digital Accountability Council (IDAC) were found to be doing data collection practices by three software development kits (SDKs) used within those apps. The researchers at the non-profit warned Google of potential issues with three SDKs used in those apps – Unity, Umeng, and Appodeal. Taking this issue into account Google itself performed an investigation and immediately removed these apps from Play Store as a corrective action in response.
This trio was found to be violating Google’s data collection policies, by hypothetically gaining access to users’ Android ID and AAID (Android Advertising ID) numbers. As per IDAC, SDK versions of Unity, Appodeal, and Umeng used within the three apps were collecting data. While the AAID is the Android’s unique ID used for advertising and, unlike the Android ID (another Android unique identifier), users have the ability to reset their AAID.
The AAID is basically the permit for gathering all the user data in one place. For instance, if a company is willing to advertise their brand of potato chips to people who like ice cream, they can contact a platform and pay for their potato chip ad to be shown to users whose AAIDs indicate that they like ice cream. However, when the AAID is linked, or “bridged” with the non-resettable Android ID, it lets companies track users; ID bridging ultimately makes the AAID’s ability to be reset by user’s moot.
IDAC’s tests revealed that certain versions of the Unity, Appodeal, and Umeng SDKs were not meeting the requirements with broader Google Play policies around data collection. In addition to this, IDAC’s tests emphasised that certain versions of Unity’s SDK were collecting both the user’s AAID and Android ID at the same time, which may have allowed Unity to bypass privacy controls and track users over time and across devices.
For the latest gadget and tech news, and gadget reviews, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. For newest tech & gadget videos subscribe to our YouTube Channel. You can also stay up to date using the Gadget Bridge Android App.