Just how is data gathered and shared about children using some mobile applications?

A graphic included in an FTC report about how developers of mobile apps for children tracks how data is collected and then given to third parties.

The sharing “raises serious questions,” the FTC says.

The FTC offered the following explanation about the sharing along with the graphic:

“Every device has a unique device ID.

“When an app transmits information, it may also send  your device ID with that information.

“So, when many apps share data with the same company that company can develop a detailed profile of all data associated with a particular device ID,” the FTC says.

“The transmission of kids’ information to third parties that are invisible and unknown to parents raises concerns about privacy, particularly because the survey results show that a large number of apps are transmitting information to a relatively small number of third parties.

“Indeed, using the device ID and other information obtained from multiple apps, these third parties could potentially develop detailed profiles of the children using the apps, without a parent’s knowledge or consent. Although it is not clear from the survey results whether the information was, in fact, used for this purpose, the frequent transmission of data, coupled with the apps’ poor disclosures overall, raises serious questions.
“In total, staff observed 223 apps transmitting data to one of 30 ad networks, analytics companies, or other third-parties whose precise use or need for the transmitted information was largely undisclosed.

“Parents do not interact with these third parties and would be unlikely to see or understand the relevance of these entities’ disclosures (assuming that the entities even provided them).

“Further, parents cannot be expected to search their mobile devices for disclosures from multiple parties to figure out how their complex data collection and sharing practices, taken together, impact their children. The transmission of data to these third parties thus
illustrates why parents need clear and accurate privacy information in one easily accessible place. Because each party involved in the mobile app marketplace plays a unique role in data collection and transmission, each party must play a role in developing effective privacy disclosures for parents.”