Google releases preview of Android upgrade

Rodiano Bonacci
Aprile 16, 2018

South Korea's Fair Trade Commission has reportedly begun investigating Google Play over allegations that the U.S. tech giant's mobile app marketplace abused its market position by pressuring local game publishers to initially launch new mobile games through Google Play only.

The researchers found that, “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. The study found that over 200 of the apps examined collected location data of children without being granted permission by the parents.

In early stages of development, Android P's notifications are being redesigned with "more curves and freshening up", and will witness in-line names and images of those writing in its new messenger app "Smart Reply".

According to industry sources on Monday, Korea's FTC has begun surveying local mobile game companies to review whether they were pressured or asked by Google to either "launch their games only through specific app marketplaces", or to "not launch their games via other app marketplaces".

It was written by the authors that the results showed that many apps are possibly playing fast and loose with both the Play Store policy and the law.

The study's authors claim that none of the apps in question attained "verifiable parental consent" for accessing or sharing this private information, which constitutes a violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) in the US. Though platforms such as the Play Store and Apple's App Store are exempt from COPPA, this sample came from the pool of vetted family-friendly apps of the Play Store.

With thousands of Android apps added to the Google Play Store daily, it may be hard for Google to manually inspect all the apps to make sure that no laws are being broken. It may as well be that some app developers simply are not aware of the rules of COPPA, especially when the apps are intended for audiences of variable ages. Popular examples include the language learning app Duolingo, the infinite running game Minion Rush and the Disney puzzle game Where's My Water?. The apps may appear to be violating COPPA or the terms of service of the Google Play Store, but it is up to the Federal Trade Commission and Google to determine the truth behind the violations. However, as this study portrays, it likely attempts to dodge the regulations to deliver targeted ads to children remain rampant online.

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