Guest Post: The Top 10 most privacy-invasive educational apps on Android

While it is not secret that app manufacturers collect insights and information about their users, it is a much bigger issue among educational apps since they are highly used by children. As study season is approaching, the Atlas VPN team decided to look at the privacy of 50 popular educational apps and see how much user data they gather.

According to the Atlas VPN research, 92% of educational apps on Android collect user data. Language learning app HelloTalk and learning platform Google Classroom developed by the tech giant, top the chart as the most privacy-invasive, collecting user information across 24 segments within 11 data types. 

A segment is a data point such as name, phone number, payment method, and precise location that are grouped in broader data types such as personal information, financial information, and location.

Meanwhile, the online education subscription platform MasterClass collects user information across 17 segments, followed by the interactive learning platform Seesaw, which gathers data from 15 segments.

Other apps in the top ten include the learning management app Canvas Student (14), education communication app Remind (14), digital education app for children ABCmouse (14), and knowledge-sharing student community app Brainly (14).

The most commonly collected data type includes personal information, such as name, email, phone number, address, user ID, gender, or similar. It is collected by 90% of educational apps. 

Over a third (36%) of apps also collect location data, followed by audio (30%), messages (22%), files and documents (16%), calendar (6%), contacts (6%), health and fitness(2%), and web browsing (2%).

70% of educational applications share your data with third parties

While many apps were found to collect user data, some apps go a step further and share user data with third parties. In total, 70% of educational applications on Android were found to disclose some of their user data to third parties. 

Personal information is the most commonly shared type of user data. In total, 46% of apps were found to share this information with third parties.

All in all, while some of the collected user information might be necessary for the provision of the services of these educational apps, we found many of the collection practices excessive. 

Even more problematic is that most apps transfer sensitive data to third parties, ranging from user name to user location, contact details, and photos, that can be later used to create a profile of who you or your children are. 

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