Video report: Android apps caught sharing private data with advertisers

Mar 6, 2012 | Regulation

Many Android apps are sharing personal data with advertisers without clear consent, according to an investigation conducted by Channel 4. Data that was available to advertisers included contacts, location data and even calendar entries. Channel 4 also highlighted a concern that it’s not clear that granting the apps permission to access this data also extends […]

Many Android apps are sharing personal data with advertisers without clear consent, according to an investigation conducted by Channel 4. Data that was available to advertisers included contacts, location data and even calendar entries.


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Channel 4 also highlighted a concern that it’s not clear that granting the apps permission to access this data also extends this permission to the advertisers and networks that are featured in the app.
The study found that the MobClix advertising network, used by many of the apps it looked at, appears to gain access to users’ contacts, location and calendar.
It also found that there was no warning that a third party is going to gain access to this data, or even an option for the makers of the apps to warn users.
Channel 4 News does point out that ‘It is perfectly possible that MobClix isn’t actually storing the data, but we have no idea what it is doing with the data they have ‘permission’ to access as the company hasn’t responded to us’.
It also acknowledges that it’s hard to know if the app makers themselves know what’s inside the advertising code they have put inside their applications and are aware of the situation.
In response, a spokesperson at Android told Channel 4 News that it ‘has best practices for app makers to follow when it comes to user data but it does not screen applications before they are offered for download’.
It does point out that before a user downloads an app, it must warn the user with a list of the part of the phone the app will gain access to when you install it.
The findings follow a number of high-profile mobile privacy stories in recent weeks.
On 16 February, Twitter admitted it stored the address books of users that used the ‘Find Friends’ feature of its iPhone app on its servers for ‘up to 18 months’ – Twitter was responding after another social network, Path, was caught downloading people’s address books without permission.
Shortly afterwards major technology companies, including Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon, agreed new rules for ensuring users are given better information about what private information apps might access before people downloaded them.
View the original video report from Channel 4 here:

Source: Channel 4

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