IMDEA Networks Institute Publications Repository

Examining COPPA Compliance at Scale

Reyes, Irwin and Wijesekera, Primal and Reardon, Joel and Elazari Bar On, Amit and Razaghpanah, Abbas and Vallina-Rodriguez, Narseo and Egelman, Serge (2018) Examining COPPA Compliance at Scale. In: The 14th Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS 2018), 12-14 August 2018, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

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We present a scalable dynamic analysis framework that allows for the automatic evaluation of the privacy behaviors of Android apps. We use our system to analyze mobile apps' compliance with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), one of the few stringent privacy laws in the U.S. Based on our automated analysis of 5,855 of the most popular free children's apps, we found that a majority are potentially in violation of COPPA, mainly due to their use of third-party SDKs. While many of these SDKs offer configuration options to respect COPPA by disabling tracking and behavioral advertising, our data suggest that a majority of apps either do not make use of these options or incorrectly propagate them across mediation SDKs. Worse, we observed that 19% of children's apps collect identifiers or other personally identifiable information (PII) via SDKs whose terms of service outright prohibit their use in child-directed apps. Finally, we show that efforts by Google to limit tracking through the use of a resettable advertising ID have had little success: of the 3,454 apps that share the resettable ID with advertisers, 66% transmit other, non-resettable, persistent identifiers as well, negating any intended privacy-preserving properties of the advertising ID.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Papers (Poster)
Depositing User: Narseo Vallina
Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2018 12:18
Last Modified: 16 Jul 2018 12:18

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