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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