HomeNewsAre mobile apps from iPhone and Android spying on you?

Are mobile apps from iPhone and Android spying on you?

A Wall Street Journal study says mobile apps are creating far more serious privacy issues than was earlier perceived by users and that most of them are sharing users' personal information with third parties.

Just when users were beginning to get comfortable with their mobile apps, The Wall Street Journal has carried out an investigation in which it tested 101 iPhone and mobile apps to find out what kind of data was being transmitted. It was found that 56 apps transmitted the phone’s unique device ID without acquiring users’ consent, and 47 apps sent out location information.
Surprisingly, five apps shared personal information such as age and gender etc. with third parties. But the worst part is that users can’t do much to change the situation other than giving up using apps.
Online tracking is not new
What’s new is that users don’t know the extent to which their personal information is being shared, and that it’s still not clear how to opt out from such data tracking. According to the Wall Street Journal, iPhone apps seem to share more data than Android apps do, although all the thousands of apps on each platform haven’t been tested yet. An earlier study conducted by Intel Labs, however, had indicted Android apps too for sharing users’ personal information. Another interesting observation is that paid apps send out less data, whereas free apps send out more.┬áThis indicates that when apps are free they cover their cost by selling users’ personal data.
The unique ID of the phone is something users can’t change, whereas in desktops or laptops, they could clear the cookies placed by online advertising companies. With the help of this ID, advertising companies can track user behaviour online. They can find out which apps were downloaded by users, or the kind of content preferred by them. Online advertising professionals suggest that the data is aggregated and is not stored in a user specific manner.
Most mobile apps don’t give users a privacy policy to read, and even if they did people never read the fine print.

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