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What Mobile Apps Know About You

What Mobile Apps Know About You - The Beacon


By: Michael

What Mobile Apps Know About You

According to a recent CBS news article two research reports detail what your apps are finding out about you, and what info they share.

A Pew Research Center survey shows apps in the Google Play Store ask for a total of 235 different types of permissions before they can be installed on your device; 165 allow the app access to your device hardware like the camera and vibrate functions, and 70 permissions grant access to personal info including your GPS location, contacts list, your movements, web browsing, social media, personal networks and the photos and videos you record and share. Apps on average grant five permissions.

The most common ones give access to your smartphone’s Internet connection. Communications and business apps including Skype, Snapchat, Adobe Reader and Google Docs required the largest number of permissions. Pew looked at apps in Google’s app store, between June and September 2014, comprising about 45 percent of all smartphones owned by Americans. The latest version of Android, Marshmallow, released in Sept. on Google Nexus phones, gives users more control over permissions, by having only basic permissions required up front in order to download an app, and putting others on as-needed, allowing users to individually deny or allow permissions.

What users can’t control, is how the information they grant access to is ultimately used.

An October 30th research study published in the Journal of Technology Science found that Android apps are more likely to share your personal information with third parties than iOS apps for Apple devices — and that they don’t need visible permission requests to do so.

The study found that 73 percent of Android apps share “potentially sensitive data,” such as name and email address with outside entities, while 16 percent of iOS apps do. Android sends info to an average of 3.1 third-party sites, versus 2.6 for the average iOS app. Forty-seven percent of Apple apps hand over location data, including your GPS coordinates, compared with only a third of Android apps. The most common recipients of sensitive data were Google, Apple and Facebook.

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Michael is our Business Information Specialist and will be writing at least one article per week for the consumer education blog. He works with accredited businesses to ensure we maintain current contact information and licensing. He is usually first to answer the phone; so odds are good you will be speaking with him when calling our office.