ReEnTrust researchers have a full paper accepted by CHI’2021, exploring current practices taken by app developers from children’s mobile apps. The paper is led by Anirudh Ekambaranathan, supervised by Dr Jun Zhao from Oxford CS and Dr Max Van Kleek.
The title of the paper is “Money makes the world go around”: Identifying Barriers toBetter Privacy in Children’s Apps From Developers’ Perspectives, and its abstract can be found below. The paper is under preparation.
The industry for children’s apps is thriving at the cost of children’s privacy: these apps routinely disclose children’s data to multiple data trackers and ad networks. As children spend increasing time online, such exposure accumulates to long-term privacy risks. In this paper, we used a mixed-methods approach to investigate why this is happening and how developers might change their practices. We base our analysis against 5 leading data protection frameworks that set out requirements and recommendations for data collection in children’s apps. To understand developers’ perspectives and constraints, we conducted 134 surveys and 20 semi-structured interviews with popular Android children’s app developers. Our analysis revealed that developers largely respect children’s best interests; however, they have to make compromises due to limited monetisation options, perceived harmlessness of certain third-party libraries, and lack of availability of design guidelines. We identified concrete approaches and directions for future research to help overcome these barriers.