Daycare Apps Pose Privacy Risks, Digital Rights Group Tells FTC

Popular mobile apps used by parents of young children in daycare are plagued by security and privacy risks, the digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation is telling the Federal Trade Commission.

Some daycare and early education apps “allow public access to children’s photos via insecure cloud storage,” while others have “dangerously weak password policies,” and at least one transmits information to Facebook, the digital rights group said Wednesday in a letter sent to FTC Chair Lina Khan.

The organization is urging the FTC to “assess potential paths to strengthen protections for young children’s data, or investigate other means to improve protections for children’s data in this context.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation says it studied the privacy and security policies of 42 daycare apps, and found that most either said they shared data with third parties, or didn't describe their data sharing policies.



Only 10 of the apps said they did not share data with third parties but, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, “7 of those 10 were sharing data with third parties anyway, contrary to their policy.”

“Parents find themselves in a bind: either enroll children at a daycare and be forced to share sensitive information with these apps, or don’t enroll them at all,” the group said in its letter to the FTC. “Paths for parents to opt a child out of data sharing are, with rare exception, completely absent.”

The organization began investigating after several parents who worked there were required to download apps in order to enroll their children in daycare. Those apps “frequently include notifications of feedings, diaper changes, pictures, activities, and which guardian picked-up/dropped-off the child,” Alexis Hancock, engineering director at the group, said in a June post.

The group adds in its letter to Khan that the federal children's privacy law -- which restricts developers of child-directed apps from collecting personal information from children under 13 -- doesn't cover daycare apps, because they are directed at parents, not children.

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