From the Wall Street Journal’s excellent What They Know series:

Your Apps Are Watching You

Nut graf:

An examination of 101 popular smartphone “apps”—games and other software applications for iPhone and Android phones—showed that 56 transmitted the phone’s unique device ID to other companies without users’ awareness or consent. Forty-seven apps transmitted the phone’s location in some way. Five sent age, gender and other personal details to outsiders.

The findings reveal the intrusive effort by online-tracking companies to gather personal data about people in order to flesh out detailed dossiers on them.

Among the apps tested, the iPhone apps transmitted more data than the apps on phones using Google Inc.’s Android operating system. Because of the test’s size, it’s not known if the pattern holds among the hundreds of thousands of apps available.

But what the Journal does know is that among the worst offenders are TextPlus 4, Pandora, Paper Toss, and Pumpkin Maker, which transmits everything from age and gender to location and phone identifiers. (Gory details here.)

Like the old song says:

Nowhere to run to, baby.

Nowhere to hide.


John R. Carroll, who also writes at Campaign Outsider and It's Good to Live in a Two-Daily Town, is an NPR media analyst and a journalism professor at Boston University.
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