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Pixalate Week in Review: April 4-8, 2022

Apr 8, 2022 1:00:00 PM

This week's review of ad fraud and privacy in the digital advertising space.

Pixalate featured in Wall Street Journal; Google removes 10+ mobile apps after researchers find data-harvesting malware tied to US defense contractor

WSJ Story Pixalate’s research for the WSJ into alleged data-harvest malware

Google has yanked dozens of apps from its Google Play store after determining that they include a software element that surreptitiously harvests data,” reported the Wall Street Journal.

According to the WSJ, a Panamanian company named Measurement Systems S. de R.L. wrote the code. Two researchers — Serge Egelman from the University of California, Berkeley, and Joel Reardon from the University of Calgary — first identified the code.

Pixalate also worked with the WSJ to analyze several apps suspected of harvesting consumer data. The WSJ wrote:

“The Measurement Systems SDK was in other popular Android consumer apps, including weather apps, QR code scanners and the highway-radar detection app. Pixalate, a third-party company that monitors app analytics, provided the Journal with data about the geographical distribution of users of apps running Measurement Systems. One weather app that the code was running inside was particularly popular in Iran.”

260 CTV apps were delisted from Roku and Amazon Fire TV in Q4 2021

260 Apps Delisted Roku and Amazon Fire TV Q4 2021

According to Pixalate’s data, 260 CTV apps were delisted over Q4 2021 across Roku and Amazon Fire TV app stores. The vast majority of them, 93%, were delisted from the Roku Channel Store.

15% (39 out of 260) of the delisted apps had programmatic ads, per Pixalate. According to Pixalate’s estimates, programmatic advertisers spent at least $250,000 on these apps in Q4 2021 prior to delisting. App-ads.txt files were found on fewer than 30% of the delisted apps (73 out of 260).

The Kids Internet Design and Safety (KIDS) Act: Why should it matter to ad-tech?

The KIDS Act ad tech blog graphic

Pixalate researched the KIDS Act proposed in the U.S. Senate and dug into how this new bill would affect COPPA as it stands. The KIDS Act expands on certain provisions included in COPPA, enacted in 1998, including expanding the application of “Covered Users,” and disabling certain features if there is knowledge that children under 13 are using their platforms.

Pixalate’s Allison Lefrak participates in 4A’s ‘What’s Coming in 2022 with Safety, Privacy and COPPA Compliance in Advertising’

4As webinar safety privacy and coppa compliance allison lefrak

On Tuesday, March 29, 2022, Pixalate’s SVP of Public Policy and COPPA Compliance, Allison Lefrak, joined Alison Pepper of 4A’s and Mamie Kresses of CARU, for a webinar to discuss consumer privacy and COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) compliance in the programmatic advertising space.

The panelists discussed best practices for data privacy and interest-based advertising, lessons learned from the Federal Trade Commission’s recent COPPA enforcement actions, the future of COPPA Safe Harbor Programs and predictions for what’s in store for privacy regulation in 2022, particularly for children’s privacy.

You can view the full webinar on Pixalate’s YouTube page [LINK].

Data leak from Russian delivery app shows dining habits of the secret police


The Verge reported on a massive data leak from the Russian food delivery app Yandex has exposed the private delivery addresses, phone numbers and instructions, including those believed to be a part of Russia’s secret police.

The article went on to explain that “Yandex Food, a subsidiary of the larger Russian internet company, Yandex, first reported the data leak on March 1st, blaming it on the “dishonest actions” of one of its employees and noting that the leak doesn’t include users' login information.”

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