That’s what legendary Texas Longhorns coach Darrell Royal said he wanted his players to be – except he pronounced it ag-ile, mo-bile, and hos-tile.

But that’s what the Federal Trade Commission does not want current kids’ app developers to be in tracking them on tablets and smartphones.

Via MediaPost:

Developers of apps aimed at children still fail to inform parents about the apps’ data collection practices, the Federal Trade Commission said on Monday.

“Despite many high-visibility efforts to increase transparency in the mobile marketplace, little or no progress has been made,” the FTC said in a new report examining apps for children.

The agency will investigate whether app developers are violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or engaging in unfair or deceptive practices. COPPA bans Web site operators from knowingly gathering personal information from children under 13 without their parents’ permission.

Unfortunately, many Web site operators are doing just that, as the PBS Newshour reported last night. (Watch here.)

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal added this report:

Big technology companies including Apple Inc., AAPL +2.18% Google Inc.GOOG +1.67% and Inc. AMZN +1.18% are coming under greater scrutiny from regulators over privacy protections for children playing with tablets and smartphones.

The Federal Trade Commission released a report Monday that said the makers of mobile apps aimed at children were collecting large amounts of data about those young users and sharing it with advertising companies without properly disclosing those practices.

The FTC said companies like Apple, Google and Amazon that run the online stores where those apps are sold need to do more to make sure parents are made aware when information like device identifiers, location data and phone numbers is being gathered.

Toward that end, the NewsHour piece said, “[in] the weeks ahead, the FTC Is expected to announce major changes to a 1998 law, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act that would impose tougher online safeguards for children under 13.”

Given the two-steps-forward-one-step-back tradition of online privacy protection, the hardtracking staff will reserve judgment until the outer precincts report in.

Don’t forget: Apple, Google and Amazon have a better lobby than the Waldorf-Astoria. No reason to believe the goo-goos and tsk-tskers will have better luck now than they’ve had in the past.


John R. Carroll is media analyst for NPR's Here & Now and senior news analyst for WBUR in Boston. He also writes at Campaign Outsider and It's Good to Live in a Two-Daily Town.
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