Category: Data Sharing

Data Sharing by APPS Out of Control

Oxford researchers looked at nearly one million APPS on Google Play Store and found that almost 90% of free APPS collect data and send it to Google, plus almost 40% collect data and send it to companies owned by Facebook.

Some of this is legitimate and necessary e.g. collecting and sending data on APP failures which helps the software maker to improve their product and Google Analytics data enables website owners to track their online usage via Google and so on.

But it does seem that a lot is to do with advertising.

The concept of free APPS is of course a tricky one as the APP makers have to make money somehow and passing data to potential advertisers is one way that many users won’t mind. But some of us do mind that our data is shared without our permission and this should not be allowed.

The sort of data collected can include age, gender, location, list of other installed APPS etc.

The research also found that 33% of the APPS send data to Twitter, 26% to Verizon (Yahoo, Tumblr etc.), 22% to Microsoft, 18% to Amazon etc.

These third-party trackers were mostly prevalent in news apps and apps aimed at children and young adults. By tracking user data – which includes information like age, location, gender, buying habits, and other miscellaneous information- companies can form a profile of users. This can then be used to send target specific ads, influence a user’s buying habits or even send political campaign messages.

Used in this manner, profiling of children without attempting to obtain parental consent, is illegal.

Do review the privacy settings on your APPS and delete any APPS you believe are sharing your data without your consent.

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Facebook Shares Data with 150 Companies

Facebook shares dropped significantly when the New York Times reported that the social media company allowed more than 150 companies (including Amazon, Microsoft, Netflix and Spotify) to access more users’ personal data than it had previously disclosed.

According to the report, the social network had allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see names of virtually all Facebook users’ friends without consent, and allowed other companies to read Facebook users’ private messages.

Steve Satterfield, Facebook’s director of privacy and public policy, claimed that none of the partnerships violated users’ privacy, or a 2011 agreement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to require explicit permission from members before sharing their data.

Facebook has admitted it allowed other big tech companies to read users’ private messages, but denies it did so without consent.

Facebook said it shut down its “instant personalisation” process in 2014, which allowed users to link their Facebook accounts with other services to see public information their friends shared. But it admitted the software components for the service were left in place after it shut down, potentially allowing developers to continue accessing users’ personal information. Facebook said it has “no evidence data was used or misused after the program was shut down.”

This is pretty bad for Facebook as it’s yet another case where the company has shown little regard for its users and prioritised money above privacy.

But, it’s not as bad as it may seem as the other companies involved appear to have had APPS and services that used specific data from Facebook and users had given permission although they may not have known exactly what they were giving permission for.

One day, Facebook may start treating its users properly – we can only hope for that miracle.

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