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Seems like every day brings a new story revealing lapses in internet privacy. The Wall Street Journal has been steadily covering this issue in its series What They Know. In a related story today, Jeremy Singer-Vine and Anton Troianovski looked into data gathering in kid-friendly apps. I talked to Singer-Vine about his findings.
Turnstyle: Did you talk to any app makers about concerns that users might have, especially when it comes to kids and privacy?
Singer-Vine: We spoke to a lot of app makers. Most of them recognized that there is a tradeoff between making money from their apps and data collection and privacy; most of the app makers we spoke to were cognizant of that tradeoff and seemed to be weighing the privacy implications while they were deciding whether or not to add some features to their apps.
TS: Why should parents be worried about this?
SV: Parents should be worried about this if they are concerned about their children receiving targeted ads or if they’re worried about other data that might leak that might not be geared towards ads. Maybe it’s geolocation, maybe it’s the email address associated with the phone. The FTC has made it very clear that they care about children’s privacy.
TS: When it comes to online privacy violations, we tend to think mostly about Facebook, and personal communications that happen on that platform. But your story deals more with monitoring of a person’s usage. Can you explain what app makers and advertisers can gain from this kind of monitoring?
SV: There’s definitely an interest amongst advertisers in targeting advertisements to particular types of people that exhibit a particular type of behaviors. So a lot of data collection powers that recommendation system.
TS: Do you think much will change after the July 1st when the FTC’s new rules take effect?
SV: I don’t know. Certainly the rules will be different. It remains to be seen how the FTC will enforce them, and it is something we will definitely be keeping track of.