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US probes mobile apps for data appropriation on underage users

WASHINGTON--U.S. regulators have launched a series of probes on whether mobile apps targeted at children violate privacy laws by collecting and sharing data which can be used for detailed profiles, officials said Monday.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said its latest review of mobile apps available on Apple's App Store and Google Play found that many collect personal data, and often share this with developers or marketers without disclosing this fact to parents.

“Our study shows that kids' apps siphon an alarming amount of information from mobile devices without disclosing this fact to parents,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.

“All of the companies in the mobile app space, especially the gatekeepers of the app stores, need to do a better job. We'll do another survey in the future and we will expect to see improvement.”

An FTC statement said the agency “is launching non-public investigations to determine whether certain entities in the mobile app marketplace are violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act or engaging in unfair or deceptive practices in violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act.”

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