Technology 60% of School Apps Are Sharing Your Kids' Data With Third Parties
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Over the past year, we’ve seen schools shift to digital services at anas a way to educate kids safely during the covid-19 pandemic. We’ve also seen these digital tools these kid’s data at a similarly unprecedented rate, suffer , and generally handle student’s personal information with than they should.
Case in point: Apublished Tuesday by the tech-focused nonprofit Me2B Alliance found the majority of school utility apps were sharing some amount of student data with third-party marketing companies. The Me2B team surveyed a few dozen so-called “utility” apps for school districts—the kind that students and parents download to, say, review their school’s calendar or bussing schedules—and found roughly 60% of them sharing everything from a student’s location to their entire contact list, to their phone’s , all with companies these students and their parents likely never heard of.
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In order to figure out what kind of data these apps were sharing, Me2B analyzed the software development kits (or SDKs) that these apps came packaged with. While SDks can do, these little libraries of code often help developers monetize their free-to-download apps by sharing some sort of data with third-party ad networks. Facebook has some SDKs, as does . Of the 73 apps surveyed in the report, there were 486 total SDKs throughout—with an average of just over 10 SDKs per app surveyed.
Of that 486 total bits of code, nearly 63% (306) were owned and operated by either Facebook or Google. The rest of those SDKs were sharing data with some lesser-known third parties, with names like AdColony and Admob.
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But the data sharing didn’t stop there. As the report points out, these lesser-known SDKs would often share the data pulled from these student apps with dozens——of other little-known third parties. What’s interesting here is that these SDKs, in particular, were found abundantly in Android apps, but way fewer iOS apps ended up bringing these pieces of tech onboard (91% versus 26%, respectively).
There are a few reasons why this might be the case. First, even if Appleabout following its own privacy rules, the company does set a that every iOS developer needs to follow, particularly when it comes to tracking and targeting the people using their apps. Most recently, Apple turned this up to 11 by mandating App Tracking Transparency (ATT) reports for the apps in its store, which literally in order to track their activity outside of the app.
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Even though Android does have its ownfor apps, historically, we’ve seen some insecure apps the cracks and onto countless people’s devices. Also, there’s a that many apps developed for Android are beaming some degree of data right back to Google.
And with Appleits standards surrounding ATT, it’s possible that the divide between the two OS’s will only keep broadening—which leaves student’s data stuck in the middle.
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