A new study has warned that more than 70 per cent of smartphone apps are reporting personal data to third-party tracking companies like Google Analytics, the Facebook Graph API or Crashlytics, warns a new study.
When people install a new Android or iOS app, it asks the user’s permission before accessing personal information. Some of the information these apps are collecting are necessary for them to work properly: A map app wouldn’t be nearly as useful if it couldn’t use GPS data to get a location.
To get a picture of what data are being collected and transmitted from people’s smartphones, the researchers from IMDEA Networks Institute in Spain developed a free Android app of their own, called the Lumen Privacy Monitor.
It analyses the traffic apps send out, to report which applications and online services actively harvest personal data.
As Lumen is about transparency, a phone user can see the information installed apps collect in real time and with whom they share these data.
This unique access to data allowed the researchers to study how mobile apps collect users’ personal data and with whom they share data at an unprecedented scale.
More than 1,600 people who have used Lumen since October 2015 allowed the researchers to analyse more than 5,000 apps.
The researchers found that 598 internet sites likely to be tracking users for advertising purposes, including social media services like Facebook, large internet companies like Google and Yahoo, and online marketing companies under the umbrella of internet service providers like Verizon Wireless
More than 70 per cent of the apps were connected to at least one tracker, and 15 per cent of them were connected to five or more trackers, the findings showed.