Commentary

App Makers Playing Dangerous Game With Personal Privacy

Threatening to bust the mobile boom, app makers are playing a dangerous game with people’s personal information.

That’s according to new and highly credible research, which tested 110 of the most popular Android and iOS apps on the market to see which ones shared personal, behavioral, and location data with third parties.

Most troubling, a whopping 73% of Android apps shared personal information, such as email address with third parties, while 47% of iOS apps shared geo-coordinates and other location data.

What’s more, 93% of Android apps tested connected to what the researchers from Harvard, MIT and Carnegie-Mellon call a “mysterious domain,” safemovedm.com, which they attribute to a background process of Android phones.

“We show that a significant proportion of apps share data from user inputs, such as personal information or search terms with third parties, without Android or iOS requiring a notification to the user,” they say.

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The third-party domains that receive sensitive data from the most apps are Google.com (36% of apps), Googleapis.com (18%), Apple.com (17%), and Facebook.com (14%).

This is bad.

As numerous reports have shown, people are already uneasy about tech giants playing fast and loose with their personal information.

And, as much as they love their gadgets, people have shown a willingness to put them down -- or at least limit their usage -- if they feel they’re being taken for a ride.

In fact, the Pew Research Center found that 54% of users decided to not install an app after learning about how much personal information that app planned to take. Pew also indicated that 30% of users reported uninstalling an app already on their phone after learning that it collected personal information that they never wanted to share.

Yet, app makers continue to take without permission, and, as these latest findings make clear, gatekeepers like Google and Apple aren’t doing much about it.

 

1 comment about "App Makers Playing Dangerous Game With Personal Privacy".
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  1. Randy Kirk from Randy Kirk & Associates, November 6, 2015 at 5:23 p.m.

    Huh. You just contradicted yourself. Apple is being very active in preventing. Only location data is shared, as the study showed.

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