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Pixalate Week in Review: June 27 - July 1, 2022

Jul 1, 2022 1:00:00 PM

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

Allison Lefrak at IAPP 2022: Pixalate’s New, First-in-Market Free COPPA Compliance Risk Management Tool

At the recent 2022 International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) conference in Washington D.C., Pixalate’s Senior Vice President of Public Policy, Ads Privacy and COPPA Compliance and former FTC enforcer, Allison Lefrak, presented Pixalate’s industry-first AI-based toolkit to identify apps that are likely child-directed and assess COPPA violation risk potential. Pixalate announced the release of its free COPPA Audience Assessment toolkit earlier this month.

Watch Lefrak’s full presentation here.

Pixalate Releases Q1 2022 Privacy on VPN Apps Report: 10% Share User Location With Advertisers And/Or Data Brokers

Pixalate - Q1 2022 Privacy on VPN Apps Report

Pixalate released the Q1 2022 Privacy on Virtual Private Network (“VPN”) Apps Report, a comprehensive analysis of the state of privacy within VPN mobile apps through Q1 2022.

The key findings of the report include:

  • There are over 7,800 VPN apps in the Google Play and Apple App Stores in Q1 2022 (i.e., apps with “VPN” in their title)
  • A large majority of the VPN apps were listed in the Google Play Store (81%)
  • 230 VPN apps transmit the users’ residential IP address to the advertising bid stream
  • 33% of VPN apps in the Apple Store and 21% in the Google Store have potential access to personal information through the sensitive permissions they request

The Health and Location Data Protection Act: What It Would Mean For Advertisers

The Health and Location Data Protection Act blog_IMG1

Starting with the leak in May of the U.S. Supreme Court’s draft decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, legalizing a woman’s right to an abortion, some legislators are taking action to try and prevent tech companies from selling users’ health data. The concern is that this data could be used in some states with strict anti-abortion laws to attempt to prosecute women seeking abortion care.

In its recent Q1 2022 Privacy on Family Planning Apps Report, Pixalate found that among 1.7k apps classified as “family planning” - meaning apps with the words “pregnancy” or “period” in the title - across the Google Play and Apple App stores:

  • 28% of family planning apps on Apple request access to the user’s location while the app is in use, and 13% request access even when the app isn’t being used
  • Over 10% of the apps share the user’s location with advertisers and/or data brokers

Lawmakers Scramble to Reform Digital Privacy After Roe Reversal

privacy-lock-secure

TIME published an article outlining U.S. lawmakers’ efforts to protect individuals’ digital privacy after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Concerns have arisen that “digital surveillance, as Google searches, location information, period-tracking apps and other personal digital data” could now be used to prosecute women seeking an abortion.

Several bills have been introduced to help alleviate possible privacy violations. The My Body, My Data Act which would instruct the FTC to establish a national privacy standard for reproductive health information collected by apps, mobile phones and search engines, put limits on what data companies could store and allow users to access and delete their personal data. The Stop Anti-Abortion Discrimination Act would crack down on misleading advertising from anti-abortion groups. The Health and Location Data Privacy Act, outlined in depth here, would stop data brokers from selling or transferring an individual's medical and sensitive personal information.

3 Pain Points Regarding Data Privacy

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Newsweek points to the lack of a federal privacy data protection law “to provide certainty and consistency for all companies that host and leverage private data, not just for their benefit but to protect consumers.” The article points out California and several other states have implemented privacy laws, but that a patchwork of regulations is burdensome to smaller tech companies, while giants like Apple, Google and Amazon have large legal teams to help them remain compliant, while they leverage their huge caches of consumer data.

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