6 Popular Apps That Are Mining Your Personal Information
Maintaining your privacy on the internet has been one of the hottest topics of 2014. Social networks and search engines alike have been taken to task by their users this year, demanding to know exactly how much the companies use customers’ personal information.
Facebook are among the worst offenders, regularly providing third party websites with virtual maps of their users’ search history. Similarly, Google sells advertisement to its users by analysing their browsing- and targeting them precisely. It means that tech giants like these get to know all about your habits, tastes, location, etc. to determine what to sell you and how to better promote their own services.
However, one of the most unlikely offenders, something that customers might not consider, are smartphone apps. Buried deep within your phone, apps have the ability to access some of your personal information such as your location, usage and social media profiles.
Privacy Grade have analysed most of the major apps that you can purchase on the Google Play store for Android devices to see how much data they were using and have listed them by grade from A+ to D. What it reveals is that some of the most popular apps that we have on our smartphones are using our data in surprisingly invasive ways.
Outfit 7’s series of Talking apps is immensely popular among young smartphone users, allowing them to say phrases to an array of cute characters and have them repeated in their own voice. However, the app Talking Tom does not simply record audio through your phone for its whimsical protagonists to echo. Privacy Grade alleges that it records the audio to deliver targeted marketing, passing info on to third parties like Sponsor Pay and InMobi.
Despicable Me may appear to be an adorable little smartphone game for fans of the Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures movies. However, as it mines information about your signal, carrier, device ID and phone number it’s actually as malicious as the movie’s anti-hero super-villain Gru. The usage data is apparently gathered to assist mobile analytics libraries.
Photo collage can discover your precise location by accessing the GPS on your smartphone. This and other such data is allegedly provided to utility libraries which give developers tools to help make their app more functional. As Privacy Grade states, this is probably more about “aiding the developer rather than the end user”.
Words With Friends
One of the most popular smartphone games is Words With Friends, a Scrabble inspired puzzle game that you can play online with your contacts and social media followers. Words With Friends, however, can access a phone’s SMS messaging system to send texts on your behalf. It can also automatically read a user’s contact book and phone call history.
Thou shalt not steal does not exactly apply to the Holy Bible app created by LifeChurch. The app, which gives an interactive experience of the Bible, mines information that customers may not wish to give away like their phone number and network carrier. According to Privacy Grade,the app uses this data to identify consumers for customer analysis.
Angry Gran Run
This immensely popular 3D game has the capacity to find accounts stored on your device, read your phone’s status and identity and retrieve data from apps currently running on your handset.