Websites and apps used by children are collecting an alarming amount of personal data, an investigation has revealed.
A study by 29 data protection regulators around the world probed 1,494 platforms targeted at or popular among youngsters.
Researchers raised concerns about 41pc of the websites and apps, highlighting the volume of personal information collected and how it was shared with third parties.
Sites and apps singled out are being told to make changes, although they have not been identified. Authorities have not ruled out enforcement action.
Adam Stevens of the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which took part in the probe, said: “The attitude shown by a number of these websites and apps suggested little regard for how anyone’s personal information should be handled, let alone that of children.”
The Global Privacy Enforcement Network (GPEN) Privacy Sweep found that of the apps and websites examined:
* Two-thirds (67pc) collected children’s personal information such as names and email addresses.
* Only 31pc had effective controls to limit the gathering of personal data from children.
* Half shared personal information with third parties.
* One-fifth (22pc) offered an opportunity for children to give their phone number, with a similar proportion (23pc) allowing them to provide photos or video.
* Only a quarter encouraged parental involvement, while seven out of 10 (71pc) did not offer an accessible way to delete account information.
The ICO said it looked at 50 websites domestically, with similar results to the international picture.
“The most common concern was a lack of information about how information would be used,” said Mr Stevens.