Google pulls popular Android apps that collected kids’ device data

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It’s not always easy for app creators to avoid violating kids’ privacy, and a few of those developers are learning this first-hand. TechCrunch reports that Google has removed Princess Salon, Number Coloring and Cats & Cosplay, Android apps with a combined 20 million Play Store downloads, after the International Digital Accountability Council (IDAC) found they were violating Google’s data collection policies. It wasn’t the app-specific code that led to the takedowns, though — rather, it was the frameworks that powered them.

The apps used versions of Unity, Appodeal and Umeng whose developer kit versions reportedly collected Android ID and Android Advertising ID (AAID) info. If an app sends the AAID alongside other persistent data, including the Android ID, it’s possible to violate Google’s privacy protections and track users, a major issue for apps aimed at pre-teen audiences.

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