ALBUQUERQUE ― Attorney General Hector Balderas, sued a group of tech companies Wednesday for illegally tracking children online.
The suit, filed against Google, Twitter, Tiny Lab Producions, MoPub, AerServ, InMobi PTE, AppLovin and IronSource, alleges the apps designed by Tiny Lab Productions and marketed by Google in its Play Store are targeted at children and contain illegal tracking software.
Federal law makes it illegal to collect personal data from children under 13 without parental consent. This illegal data collection allows Defendants, and whoever they sell this data to, to track, profile, and target millions of children nationwide.
“These apps can track where children live, play, and go to school with incredible precision,” Balderas said. “These multi-million-dollar tech companies partnering with app developers are taking advantage of New Mexican children, and the unacceptable risk of data breach and access from third parties who seek to exploit and harm our children will not be tolerated in New Mexico.”
The Attorney General’s Office has a long history of protecting children from online dangers such as online predators and child exploitation, and this lawsuit seeks to prevent those types of crimes before they happen. Once data about a child has been illegally collected and stored, that data is now accessible not only to advertisers seeking to make money but also to those looking to harm children. Data breaches are an ever-present risk, and collecting information about children that allows a person to track their movements creates a risk that this data will fall into the wrong hands or wind up on the dark web.
As technology advances, more and more children are gaining access to the internet and the internet of things. These games, downloaded from the internet and connected to the internet during and sometimes even after play, pose a unique risk to children. Parents should be aware of these risks and should know how to protect their children before purchasing an internet connected device for their children. Parents should be extremely selective of the apps they choose for their children. Other than eliminating app or device use, there is no 100 percent effective way to protect against this type of data collection.
In addition to being selective about apps they download, here are some tips for limiting a child’s exposure:
Limit the time your child spends on the device and make sure apps are fully closed when they are done being played.
Limit ad tracking via settings and reset advertising identifiers. Set a weekly time to check the settings on your child’s device to make sure nothing has changed.