Internet Safety Labs (ISL), a non-profit organization focused on independent software product safety testing, has announced the availability of App Microscope to help advance mobile app safety for K-12 students, families, and educators.

In a press release, ISL said the web-based resource is designed to help school technology decision-makers and other stakeholders “pierce the technology fog and take a good hard look at what is really going on with children’s private and personal data inside the EdTech mobile applications they are using.”

ISL cited data from its 2022 K12 Edtech Safety Benchmark Findings Report Part 1, which found that 96 percent of educational apps share children’s personal information with third parties, and that 78 percent of the time the apps are sharing info with advertising and data analytics entities. ISL also noted that this share typically is done without the knowledge or consent of the users or the schools.

The nonprofit explained that the App Microscope is a tool for app developers, school technology decision-makers, journalists, privacy advocates, regulators, and any other interested parties who want to better understand risky behaviors of mobile apps. The app uses a search bar through which users can mine information about the 1,722 mobile apps contained in the ISL 2022 K-12 EdTech safety benchmark. The benchmark report analyzed data collected from 663 schools, including more than 455,000 students across all 50 states.

ISL explained that once users look up an app, the App Microscope displays the ISL Safety Label for mobile applications, rating them from Some Risk to Very High Risk, and summarizes the risky behaviors in a clear and easy-to-understand single page.

“When people want to know what is in something, from cars to clothes to food, they look at the label. We think it is rather shocking that there are no independent safety labels for the technology we all use every day, and we are working to change that,” said Lisa LeVasseur, executive director of ISL. “We are all about radical transparency, and our research and new App Microscope demonstrate our aim to blow the lid off the deep dark secrets in our every-day technology. We all deserve to know what’s inside.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs