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Pixalate Introduces Ad Industry’s First COPPA Compliance Technology to Identify Child-Directed Apps in Google and Apple App Stores

Opens up platform to regulators and ad tech companies to show which apps are transmitting user data; New technology, based on FTC COPPA rule, blends artificial intelligence and teacher-based manual reviews of 5MM+ apps

Pixalate, the market-leading fraud protection, privacy, and compliance analytics platform for Connected TV (CTV) and Mobile Advertising, released the industry’s first COPPA compliance toolkit for 5MM+ mobile apps across the Apple and Google app stores. Pixalate’s hybrid AI-based technology automates the child-directed assessment of all of the apps available in the Apple App and Google Play stores and is the first publicly available index designed to aid advertisers, regulators, parents, researchers and the ad tech community in guarding children’s online privacy and remaining COPPA compliant.

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Pixalate has also formed a Trust and Safety Advisory Board, helmed by a former FTC enforcer, Allison Lefrak, composed of qualified educators, to review and assess whether apps are child-directed through the lens of the COPPA Rule on an ongoing basis.

“Google and Apple do not require all app developers to identify whether they are child-directed as a condition of being featured in their app stores. While they require content ratings for all apps, these ratings do not tell the public whether the app is targeting children under 13 as a portion of the audience. This is critical information, not only for parents, but for ad tech companies seeking to comply with COPPA,” said Pixalate’s SVP of Public Policy, Ads Privacy and COPPA Compliance, Allison Lefrak. “Pixalate has stepped in to solve this complex problem with its automated assessment of the likely target audience of apps.”

Pixalate is committed to helping ad tech understand hidden children’s privacy compliance risks across mobile apps. Opening up this data reveals the extent of likely child-directed inventory across the mobile app ecosystem – the first public source to assist children’s privacy advocates, regulators, and the advertising industry.

“The FTC’s recent settlement with an ad exchange has underscored the need for ad techs companies to take a hard look at their COPPA compliance obligations,” said Jalal Nasir, CEO of Pixalate. “The ad industry can now search for child-directed apps for free to assess their potential exposure to COPPA compliance risk in the mobile ad supply chain.”

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Pixalate’s free COPPA Audience Assessment reveals the likely target audience of 5MM+ Apple and Google Play store apps based on Pixalate’s Methodology developed in collaboration with a former FTC regulator. In Q1 2022, Pixalate found:

  • Nearly 400k mobile apps are likely child-directed
  • 15% of child-directed apps do not have a detectable privacy policy according to Pixalate, a potential violation of COPPA
  • Over 25k child-directed apps were found to share personal information for advertising purposes (in the bid-stream)
  • 42% – over 160k child-directed apps – request permission to access sensitive device capabilities (e.g., microphone or camera access) and/or data (e.g., precise location, images, voice recordings, residential IP address)

Pixalate’s COPPA Audience Assessment helps advertisers and ad tech companies assess their COPPA readiness with tools & features that power compliance risk management at scale:

  • Regulatory-first methodology developed to address COPPA compliance challenges within the ad tech ecosystem & strengthen protection against regulatory consequences
    • Our data-driven approach is coupled with manual review of apps by Pixalate’s Trust and Safety Advisory Board
  • Real-time risk monitoring to minimize monetary & brand reputation losses
    • Flag child-directed apps in media buys and publisher networks
    • Analyze COPPA compliance risk associated with traffic
  • Empower inventory quality and compliance teams to demonstrate COPPA readiness & accountability
    • Enact COPPA safeguards with insight into an app’s intended audience, privacy policy, and permissions
    • Audit risk exposure with post-bid traffic analysis
    • Search 1MM+ privacy policies to find COPPA-related terms
  • Automate publisher vetting to limit risk exposure
    • Validate supply-side partners are correctly classifying apps as child-directed
    • Verify partners in network follow the IAB Tech Lab’s OpenRTB guidance regarding COPPA compliance
    • Build & scale due diligence workflows via API
  • Privacy and compliance driven media planning with COPPA compliance data across 8.5MM+ apps
    • Enhance exclusion lists
    • Keyword search for apps to build contextual targeting lists
    • Search for apps with child-directed keywords to streamline app review
    • Included apps delisted from the app stores

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