The research was conducted using an automated testing process on 5,855 family and child-related apps available on Google Play, Engadget reported Sunday. 3,337 of those apps were found to be engaging in improper collection, with 281 of them bagging contact and/or location info without asking for parental approval.
The rest of the study's findings are equally damning. For example, third parties were able to access user info "for restricted purposes" in 1,100 apps and 2,281 seemingly shared similar info to the Android Advertising ID. A whopping 92 percent of Facebook-linked apps failed to hinder use by children under the age of 13. All told, 40 percent of apps included in the research had passed on info without taking "reasonable" security measures.
Legally, any potential violations will be decided by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Per Engadget's report, such data collection methods could be proven as violations of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA). The FTC imposed COPPA as a method of putting certain requirements in place to protect children's personal information. One caveat, however, is that any alleged COPPA violator must be proven to have "actual knowledge" that data was being collected.
The Android apps research arrives following Facebook's contentious privacy scandal, which which ultimately resulted in CEO Mark Zuckerberg claiming that he too had been affected. Zuckerberg also apologized for the entire Cambridge Analytica ordeal. "I started Facebook, I run it, and I'm responsible for what happens here," he said.