Are Android apps passing your personal data to advertisers?

5 March 2012

android_appsYou may gasp with horror when you read this, but it seems there are companies that are passing your details to advertisers! Astonishing, eh? This time, top app developers for Android are being accused of this nefarious practice.

Many of the biggest applications have been accused of breaking European data protection laws by passing your vulnerable, defenceless personal information to a US advertising firm without users' explicit permission.

Work by MWR InfoSecurity (commissioned by those humous munching buggers at Channel 4) found that code within some applications that allows info such as texts, emails, photos, contacts and calendar information to be passed directly to the firm, called MobClix. Sadly, Channel 4 haven't name any applications with the code installed because they want to save their scoop for transmission, presumably.

Rob Miller, a security consultant from MWR InfoSecurity, told V3 that this highlights the lack of awareness concerning the way applications work.

"Android's way of working is to be an open system and to put the onus on the user to check how applications work, but obviously a lot of people don't do this. People think the adverts are a separate part of the system, and don't realise information can be passed on to advertisers."

This all comes on the back of the European justice commissioner, Viviane Reding, railing against personal privacy invasions regarding Google. She says: "This really concerns me, and this is against the law because nobody has the right to get your personal data without you agreeing to this. They are spotting you, they are following you, they are getting information about your friends, about your whereabouts, about your preferences. That is certainly not what you thought you bought into when you downloaded a free of charge app. That's exactly what we have to change."

TOPICS:   Technology   Mobile   Privacy


  • Me
    Class action time?
  • Alex B.
    Install and run TrustGo's "Ad Detector", Lookout's "Ad Network Detector" and denper's "Addons Detector" and they'll tell you which advertising networks are used by which apps, and what they can do. Apps I've found with MobClix include Call Logs Backup & Restore, Default App Manager, Grabatron Free, SMS Backup & Restore, SoundHound (free version), TuneIn Radio (free version), XiiaLive Lite (free version).
  • Mary H.
    "Are Android apps passing your personal data to advertisers?" No. Becasue I don't use Android.
  • Roy
    "put the onus on the user to check how applications work" - exactly the same as the open systems of Windows and Mac then? Any Windows/Mac program (with or without ads) could do the same - except then we would call it malware instead of a program/app
  • Alex B.
    Additionally, it looks as though the paid, supposedly ad-free version of SoundHound includes MobClix (and other advertising SDKs).

What do you think?

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