iOS and Android Apps Regularly Share Personal Data

Think all that personal data you are keeping on your smartphone is safe? Think again as apparently your handset doesn’t like to keep secrets and shares personal data on a regular basis, even the handset’s unique ID number.

According to an investigation by the Wall Street Journal smartphones share data regularly and widely. The WSJ apparently examined 101 popular game and software apps on both Android smartphones and the Apple iPhone and found that no less than 56 apps transmitted the handset’s device ID without the user’s consent or knowledge to other companies.

The examination apparently found that 47 of the applications tested sent the handset’s location in one way or another while 5 transmitted the owner’s gender, age and personal details to others. Apparently the findings show that there is an “intrusive effort” by online tracking firms to pull in personal data so those companies can hold a personal dossier on people.

The examination also found that iOS apps sent out more data that Android apps although due to the size of the test it isn’t clear if this would remain true when taking into account the multitude of available applications.

However the test did find that the popular music Pandora app version for iPhone and Android transmitted location, gender, age, and handset identity to several as networks. iPhone app TextPlus sent out the handset’s ID number along with the handset’s zip code to 8 ad firms.

Also the Paper Toss game for iOS and Android transmitted handset identification number to a minimum of 5 ad firms while the iPhone app for meeting gay men, Grindr transmitted handset ID, gender and location to 3 ad firms.

A spokesperson for Apple has said, “We have created strong privacy protections for our customers, especially regarding location-based data. Privacy and trust are vitally important.”

To carry out the investigation into app personal data sharing the WSJ apparently designed a system to intercept and record and record transmitted data and then decoded the data stream. The test was done on 50 Android phones and 50 iPhone apps.

We have a short video for your viewing pleasure below of the WSJ’s Julia Angwin explaining how mobile apps collect and broadcast your data, so hit that play button and check it out…enjoy.


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