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    Three Children's Apps Removed From Google Play Store For Violating Data Collection Policies

    Three Children's Apps Removed From Google Play Store For Violating Data Collection Policies

    The three apps were collecting users' Android ID and Android Advertising ID (AAID) numbers, something Google's privacy policies prohibit.

    Google has removed three children's apps from the Play Store after they were found violating the company's data collection policies. Google was alerted by researchers at the International Digital Accountability Council (IDAC), who found out that while these apps were not violating any rules when it comes to the code, there were problems found in the developer kits used by these apps. The three apps, Princess Salon, Number Coloring, and Cats & Cosplay, used software developer kits (SDKs) from Unity, Umeng, and Appodeal. The three apps had more than 20 million downloads combined.

    The apps being removed from Google Play Store was first reported by TechCrunch. It quoted a Google spokesperson as saying that the apps were removed and that whenever the company finds an app that violates Google's policies, it takes action. IDAC said that there were problems in the data collection practices followed by the three SDKs used in Princess Salon, Number Coloring, and Cats & Cosplay. The SDKs were not in compliance with Google Play policy around data collection, as they were potentially accessing users' Android ID and Android Advertising ID (AAID) numbers simultaneously, which is against Google's privacy policy. “The practices we observed in our research raised serious concerns about data practices within these apps,” IDAC president Quentin Palfrey said in the report. “We applaud Google for taking steps to enforce on these apps and the third-party data practices within these apps.”

    Android ID is a 64-bit number that is generated on the device's first boot and remains that device's ID forever. The AAID is also a unique Android ID used for advertising. It is essentially the passport for aggregating all of the data about a user in one place and users can also change their AAID by going into the ads settings on their Android smartphone.

    There were no reports of any known violations in the IDAC report, nor is it known how much data was compromised by these apps.


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