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December 20, 2010

Smartphone apps spying and transmitting user details

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by Darren Allan

Not only is big brother watching us, but little brother is also, in the form of the smartphones we carry around.

Or more specifically, the popular apps which are loaded onto mobiles, and then spy on users relaying information which can be used to better target adverts.

This particular story was run in the Wall Street Journal, which conducted a study of a hundred popular apps on the iPhone and Android, both games and software.

The results revealed that the majority of these apps (56%) transmitted the phone’s device ID without the owner’s knowledge or consent. 47% relayed the handset’s location, and 5% sent detailed personal information such as age and gender.

Big name apps such as the game Angry Birds sent ID and location details to the publisher, and Pandora transmitted location, age and gender details, the WSJ claims.

The makers of Pandora responded that any data passed on to third parties is done so anonymously, not linked to the owner’s name, and added that age and gender details are apparently volunteered by users.

On an overall level, more data was relayed by iPhone apps than Android apps, although the study was over a relatively small sample.

Story link: Smartphone apps spying and transmitting user details

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