Angel or devil? A privacy study of mobile parental control apps

Android parental control applications are used by parents to monitor and limit their children’s mobile behaviour (e.g., mobile apps usage, web browsing, calling, and texting). In order to offer this service, parental control apps require privileged access to system resources and access to sensitive data. This may significantly reduce the dangers associated with kids’ online activities, but it raises important privacy concerns. We conduct the first in-depth study of the Android parental control app’s ecosystem from a privacy and regulatory point of view. In summary, parental control applications lack transparency and lack compliance with regulatory requirements. This holds even for those applications recommended by European and other national security centers.