Recently, I wrote a post on how smartphone apps send users’ private data off to various companies without users’ knowledge. As shocking as some of that information was, a more recent article in the Wall Street Journal shines even more light on the issue, noting that smartphones don’t keep secrets!
Previously, I mentioned some of the “leakiest” smartphone apps that gather and record users’ personal information, including Groupon, textPlus 4, and Paper Toss, but check out this infographic from the WSJ on the popular music app, Pandora:
Yikes! As an avid user of Pandora and 20 or so other apps, I’m glad some attention is being given to this issue of privacy. At least I use a Droid though, which doesn’t transmit as much data as the iPhone. But, regardless of type of phone, these apps are pretty intrusive, especially given the findings from the WSJ’s research of 101 popular apps, which found:
- 55% transmitted the phone’s unique device ID to other companies without users’ awareness or consent
- 47% apps transmitted the phone’s location in some way
- Some even sent age, gender and other personal details to outsiders (like Pandora)!
While permission measures are often put in place, as required by Apple and Google, such privacy measures can be evaded. The WSJ uncovered several that violated this requirement and noted that neither Apple nor Google requires apps to seek permission to access certain forms of the device ID, or to send it to outside companies.
Should standards be put in place to keep companies collecting and using this data in line? Or should the gathering of such data be outlawed all together? However this issue progresses, I believe apps have become too popular to be dismissed all together. I think people will forgo certain aspects of their privacy before abandoning their precious games, music, and the like. Would you agree? As this issue gains more ground, how do you think we should proceed?