How cute are kids spying on kids à la Harriet the Spy? Pretty dang cute, right? But adults spying on kids? Well, that’s just creepy. And in the case of mobile app developer 24x7digital, it’s criminal.
New Jersey state authorities filed suit in federal court against the company on June 6, claiming that the brand’s games, which are marketed as “educational” for children, collect personal information about the kids without consent. The series, called TeachMe — available on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch — may in fact be teaching its manufacturer more than it should know about the players.
The state is saying the app — one of the most popular in the educational category of the Apple App Store — accumulated children’s names, photos and unique device identifier code so it could then transmit the data to a third-party analytics company.
The lawsuit against 24×7 marks the first of its kind, which prompts the question: Will this be the first of many? If we’re to consider a report published by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in February, which showed the results of a survey of mobile apps for children, we may just forecast a “yes.”
The report concluded that neither mobile app developers nor app stores provide sufficient information to parents as to what information is being collected from their kids, how it is being shared, and by whom. The FTC proposed an additional six month review to determine whether any mobile apps are violating Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.