Google has recently removed three different Android apps for kids for violating the data collection policy. The apps had millions of downloads before deletion from the Play Store.
Kids Android Apps Collected Data
Reportedly, three different malicious kids apps surfaced on the Android Play Store collecting extensive data. These apps precisely included Princess Salon, Number Coloring, and Cats & Cosplay.
All the three apps seemed harmless applications aimed at children. However, researchers at the International Digital Accountability Council (IDAC) discovered that the said app violated Google’s policies for collecting user data. Consequently, these apps even collected users’ Android ID and AAID (Android Advertising ID) numbers.
As reported by TechCrunch, the apps collectively boasted over 20 million downloads. These apps used three SDKs for their suspicious functionalities; Unity, Umeng, and Appodeal.
While the apps had no embedded malware, the data collection by the SDKs could allow user tracking. While an Android user can reset the AAID, resetting the Android ID isn’t possible. Hence, collecting this identifier means a permanent breach.
Commenting about their research, Quentin Palfrey, President IDAC, told,
The practices we observed in our research raised serious concerns about data practices within these apps…
If AAID information is transmitted in tandem with a persistent identifier [such as Android ID] it’s possible for the protection measures that Google puts in place for privacy protection to be bridged.
Google Removed The Apps
Following the IDAC report, Google removed the three suspicious apps from the Play Store. As a Google spokesperson confirmed via a statement,
We can confirm that the apps referenced in the report were removed. Whenever we find an app that violates our policies, we take action.
However, the apps may still be available on third-party stores. Also, they may be running on users’ devices.
Therefore, users who still have these malicious apps must ensure deleting them from their devices at the earliest.
Recently, Google also removed multiple malicious Android apps that displayed out-of-context ads to users