We’ve added a new feature to the 42matters Explorer! Now you can use it to check whether apps signal adherence to privacy and data protection regulations, including those associated with COPPA, CCPA, GDPR, GDPR-K, the United Kingdom’s Children’s Code, and more.
A few months back we wrote a primer on COPPA, GDPR-K, and the UK’s Children’s Code. We noted that, while these regulations were designed to foster secure digital environments for kids, they’ve nevertheless placed a massive burden on digital advertisers.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), falling out of line with COPPA can cost violators up to $43,280 in civil penalties — per violation! Not exactly chump change; and fines can add up quickly. YouTube, for instance, was slapped with a $170 million mega-fine back in 2019.
What’s more, legislation pertaining to online privacy and data protection is proliferating rapidly. Not only are national (United States and United Kingdom) and supranational (European Union) governing bodies crafting policy, but so are state and local governments. For example, five US states (California, Utah, Colorado, Virginia, and Connecticut) have already either passed or signed data privacy laws similar to GDPR, while an additional 14 have either introduced or are currently debating them in committee.
All of this is to say that there are an increasing number of hurdles to clear for ad networks, ad tech companies, cyber security professionals, and other app industry professionals; and failure to clear them could result in growth-derailing penalties.
So, taking this into consideration, we at 42matters are pleased to announce the latest addition to the 42matters Explorer — app compliance insights!
Here’s what we’ll cover in this blog post (click the links to jump to the relevant section):
App Compliance Insights from the 42matters Explorer
For each app tracked in the Explorer we now provide a variety of compliance insights. These can be used to determine the extent to which apps may collect personal data, whether apps present any security risks, and whether apps adhere to global privacy regulations. Additionally — and more specifically — ad tech companies can leverage our compliance intelligence to inform their ad space acquisition decisions.
Currently, the compliance insights you can track on the Explorer include:
- Store Status: See whether an app is published or unpublished.
- Abandoned: Confirm that an app has been updated in the last nine months.
- Registered In: Determine where an app’s publisher is registered.
- Advertisement: Confirm whether an app sells ad space.
- App-ads.txt: See if an app’s app-ads.txt file is valid.
- Age Rating: Identity which age group an app is directed towards (this is helpful when it comes to complying with COPPA, GDPR-K, and the UK’s Children’s Code).
- Sensitive Permissions: See whether users of an app are required to give it access to sensitive information, tools, or apps (think: camera access, external storage access, account access, etc.)
- Track Location: See whether users of an app are required to agree to location tracking (fine location, coarse location, etc.).
In light of the hefty fines that have been levied at ad tech companies for failing to adhere with data privacy regulations, we believe the Explorer’s compliance insights are more important than ever. They enable companies operating in the mobile advertising industry to stay ahead of the curve and assure that each and every ad placement is safe, secure, and within the bounds of the latest privacy laws globally.
How to Access App Compliance Insights
To begin, launch the Explorer and CLICK on the app you’d like to research. In this case, we went with WhatsApp Messenger:
This will open up WhatsApp’s app card:
To enlarge it, CLICK on the EXPAND ARROWS in the upper right corner of the app card (between the HIDE button and the CLOSE button). Here’s what you should end up with:
From here, either CLICK on the Compliance tab (between Ad Sellers and Permissions) or scroll down to the COMPLIANCE section.
This section provides an overview of the compliance insights outlined above. You can use it to quickly research whether or not the app you selected is a good fit for your security goals, or to spearhead further analysis.
And That’s That!
If you’d like to learn more about the Explorer’s App Compliance Insights, or any of our other app intelligence solutions, just let us know! Our team of experts would be more than happy to walk you through them.