If you use an Android device you’ll notice that when you install applications there’s a set of permissions that you grant these apps. These permissions need to be checked closely because they could result in data breaches and unlawful sharing of user data without user consent. Unfortunately, there are some apps that will continue sharing your data even when you turn permissions off and attempt to protect your privacy at all costs.
According to Cnet, there are roughly 17 000 apps on Android that are collecting data that can be used by advertisers to target consumers. So how do these apps track you? Well, they link your Advertising ID – a “unique but resettable number used to tailor advertising”- to other identifiers on your phone such as your IMEI, Android ID and the MAC Address. This of course, goes against what Google calls the best practices for developers but none of the developers seems to be really paying attention to that.
You’ll be surprised to see how at the number of high-profile apps that are violating these best practices, but after what we’ve seen from Facebook our expectations can’t be too low. Some of the apps include:
- Angry Birds Classic
- Audiobooks By Audible
- Clean Master
- Battery Doctor
- Cheetah Keyboard
All of these apps have install rates of over 100 million and Clean Master, which ironically isn’t as clean as we thought, has over a billion installs.
Does data privacy even matter?
In conversations I’ve had with some people they don’t really seem to care what data is harvested from their personal devices and some actually acknowledge that nothing is free. As most of the applications on the list are free some understand what they are signing up for and they believe that the data is the price they pay. I’m not too sure if that still justifies developers collecting data discreetly. Offering users who prefer to hand their data over might be a better option. Maybe if developers fully disclosed that your data would be used to give you better and more relevant ads it would also make it more convincing as most users understand that they are going to get ads anyway, why not get relevant ones whilst they are at it.
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