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Tech Giants Apple, Google Remove 3 Dating Apps Targeting Kids

The FTC also issued a consumer alert for parents about the dating apps

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Customers walk past an Apple logo inside of an Apple store at Grand Central Station in New York, Aug. 1, 2018. VOA

Apple and Google have removed three dating apps from their online stores after the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleged the apps allowed kids as young as 12 to access them.

In a recent letter, the FTC warned Ukraine-based Wildec LLC, which operates the apps Meet24, FastMeet, and Meet4U, that the three dating apps appeared to be in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the FTC Act.

“The apps have been removed from the app stores until they address the alleged violations outlined by the FTC,” the commission said on Monday.

The dating apps collected users’ birth dates, email addresses, photographs and real-time location data.

While the three apps claimed in their privacy policies to prohibit users under the age of 13, the apps failed to block users who indicated they were under 13 from using the apps and from being contacted by other users of the apps.

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FILE – The Google logo is seen at a start-up campus in Paris, France, Feb. 15, 2018. VOA

In its review of the apps, FTC staff found users who indicated they were as young as 12.

“Allowing adult users to communicate with children poses a serious health and safety risk. Several individuals have reportedly faced criminal charges for allegedly contacting or attempting to contact minors using Wildec’s apps,” said FTC.

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The FTC’s COPPA Rule requires companies collecting personal information from children under the age of 13 to post clear privacy policies and to notify parents and get their verifiable consent before collecting, using, or sharing personal information from a child.

The FTC also issued a consumer alert for parents about the dating apps. (IANS)

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Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro Found Continuously Sharing the Location Even After Being Blocked to do so

When questioned about this issue, Apple said the behaviour was expected

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iPhones are on display at an Apple store in Prince William Country, Virginia. (Photo: Diaa Bekheet) VOA

Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro has been found to continuously collecting and transmitting its users location data even when the user has blocked it from doing so.

Security journalist Brian Krebs wrote about this on his blog recently, with an accompanying video revealing that the new iPhone continues to collect GPS data for certain apps and system services despite manual disablement of individual Location Services in iPhone Settings.

iPhone 11 Pro seeks GPS data even when an app’s Location Services switch is set to “never” request said information.

Krebs thinks it might be the result of new hardware brought in to support Wi-Fi 6, but he couldn’t confirm this was the case.

Apple’s privacy policy for the iPhone’s Locations Services says the iPhone “will periodically send the geo-tagged locations of nearby Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers (where supported by a device) in an anonymous and encrypted form to Apple, to be used for augmenting this crowd-sourced database of Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower locations.”

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An Apple company logo is seen behind tree branches outside an Apple store in Beijing, Dec. 14, 2018. VOA

Krebs claims it is not possible to turn off location-based system services for certain services when using the iPhone 11 Pro.

“Apparently there are some system services on this model (and possibly other iPhone 11 models) which request location data and cannot be disabled by users without completely turning off location services, as the arrow icon still appears periodically even after individually disabling all system services that use location,” Kreb wrote.

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When questioned about this issue, Apple said the behaviour was expected.

“We do not see any actual security implications, it is expected behaviour that the Location Services icon appears in the status bar when Location Services is enabled. The icon appears for system services that do not have a switch in Settings,” an Apple engineer said. (IANS)