Google removed three famous apps for children from Google Play Store after data collection violations were pointed out by International Digital Accountability Council or IDAC. The removed apps were – Princess Salon, Number Coloring and Cats & Cosplay. These apps have together seen around 20 million downloads. IDAC says that the apps were not violating any rules but in terms of code, problems were found in the frameworkd used to power the apps. They used SDKs from Unity, Umeng and Appodeal. Problems were found in the developer kits.
TechCrunch says that Google has removed all the three apps from the Play Store after they were reported by IDAC. A spokesperson of Google said that they can confirm that the apps mentioned in the report have been removed. If they find an app that violates their policies, they take action.
IDAC said that the issues were found in the practice of data collection by three software development kits or SDKs used in these apps. The SDKs used were not in compliance with broader Google Play policies related to data connection. For example, various versions of Unity’s SDK were collecting user’s AAID and Android ID. This is against the privacy policies of Google and it would have allowed developers to bypass the privacy controls and track users over time and among devices.
IDAC explained that AAID is the unique ID of Android which is used for advertising and users can also reset them. When AAID is linked with the non-resettable Android ID, it allows companies to track users and ID bridging makes the ability of AAID to be reset according to users mood.
No more violations were reported by IDAC and more details were not shared on how much data got compromised through these apps. This however has shed light at the complicated nature of software and possible risks involved when even there are app producers out there with good intentions.