Apple's latest move to prohibit use of any third parties in kid's apps could be seen as a step in the right direction. For too long the kid's app space has been the wild west with unscrupulous collection of personal information, tracking and frankly frightening practices around building profile's of young users who, along with their parents, are unaware of what happens to their personal information.
It is however, a step in the wrong direction. Apps in the kid's category are built and run by companies that are prepared to do the right thing and meet certain criteria. These apps need third parties to help them operate. The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act allows for use of a third party to support these internal operations as long as that information is not shared onwards or used for other purposes. Understanding use of the app, bug reporting and contextual ads are all key to keeping the app running and doing business and all can be done without any negative impact on a child's privacy or safety.
Instead of a blanket lock down Apple needs to shape up and understand compliance with child privacy regulations so that kids can have the best experience possible. Kicking the baby out with the bath water is not the way forward.
PRIVO's founder and CEO Denise Tayloe commented:
"Kids are going to get the short end of the stick on this one. The lockdown is so severe that apps will simply not place themselves in the kid's category. Kids will have little to choose from and instead will spend more time in the unrestricted ecosystem and we will have solved little to nothing. Apps that want to engage parents for consent won't be able to do that either. Contextual ads and analytics are critical to the survival of content for kids. Too bad the big boys refuse to put something meaningful in place and instead will claim victory for themselves while kids have less and less content intended for them."
So wise up Apple and listen to privacy experts and industry. Moves in the right direction are welcome but this is short sighted and in the long run will have a negative impact on kids.