Home News Local News Snyder speaks out about dangers of apps

Snyder speaks out about dangers of apps

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AP File Photo / Susan Montoya Bryan In this 2015 photo, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas talks during a news conference in Albuquerque. New Mexico is suing Google, Twitter and other companies that develop and market mobile gaming apps for children, saying the apps violate state and federal laws by collecting personal information that could compromise privacy. The lawsuit filed in federal court on Sept. 11 comes as data-sharing concerns persist among users.

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Though the Chaves County Sheriff’s Department does not have a program to deal with or educate the public about the risks the internet and online devices can present to children, parents need to actively monitor what their children are doing online.

“Look at their phones, look at everything they are doing,” Brit Snyder, Chaves County sheriff, said Tuesday. He added that if parents are operating on the assumption that everything is all right as it relates to their child’s internet activity, they are likely missing something.

Parents need to pay particular attention to the apps their children are downloading and using.

“There are so many apps that are being used, being misused by predators to gain access to children,” Snyder continued. “The list is almost too long to name.”

Law enforcement at the state level is also looking to address the dangers some apps can present to children..

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Earlier this month the New Mexico Attorney General’s office revealed in a press release that they had filed a lawsuit against Tiny Lab Productions, Google and other tech companies, alleging they produce and sell apps sold in Google Play stores that contain illegal tracking software.

Other app producers named in the suit include MoPub, AerServ, InMobi PTE, AppLovin and IronSource.

Federal law bars the collection of personal data of children under age 13 without parental consent, according to the release.

Illegal data collection allows defendants and whoever else they sell data to, to track, profile and target children nationwide, the release states.

“These apps can track where children live, play, and go to school with incredible precision,” New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas said in the release. “These multi-million dollar tech companies partnering with app providers are taking advantage of New Mexico children, and the unacceptable risk of data breach and access from third parties who seek to exploit and harm our children in New Mexico will not be tolerated in New Mexico.”

The New Mexico Attorney General’s office recommends parents be selective about the apps their children are allowed to download.

The AG’s office also advises:

• Limit the time children spend on their device and make sure apps are fully closed when not being played

• Limit ad tracking through settings on a device and reset advertising identifiers; set a weekly time to check the settings on their child’s device to make sure nothing has changed

• Apps should be used that are not ad-supported and devices put in airplane mode

Snyder said he wishes there was a device or program that would include a description of apps and what they are used for.

Todd Wildermuth, Roswell Police Department public information officer, said in an email that RPD is working to train a detective to represent the department on the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

The department has had a representative on the task force but does not currently.

The Task Force is composed of 61 coordinated task forces composed of 4,500 federal, state and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies, according to the task force website.

Wildermuth said they do not have a timetable for when the department will have someone trained.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.