Android apps know a lot about you, and more than half of Google Play apps share that data

Google announced last year new section on data security in the Play Store. From July 20th, all app developers must state within this section how they collect and handle user data, as well as detail how they protect this data.

As many as 55.2% of applications share user data, is the conclusion of researchers from the company Unknowns after a detailed analysis of the data security section of the 500 most popular free apps and 500 paid apps that can be downloaded from Google Play.

Among the analyzed apps, free apps share, on average, seven times more data than paid apps. The huge disparity between the data sharing policies of paid and unpaid apps seems to confirm the general belief that users are actually paying for free online services with their data.

Similarly, popular apps share 6.15 times more data than less popular apps.

Meta apps, such as Facebook, Facebook Lite, Messenger Lite, Messenger and Instagram, collect the most personal data, but the tech giant claims to share the least. Meta claims to share only 4 types of data, but it collects 36 out of 37 types of data, which means that practically Meta knows everything about you.

Surprisingly, social networking apps aren’t even in the top 5 categories of apps that share the most data. However, when it comes to data collection, they are the worst offenders, with the most data collected.

And while social networks collect the most data, shopping apps, business apps, apps from the “food and drink” category share the most data on average.

However, Google’s definition of sharing does not include the transfer of data to a service provider or anonymous data (which can be re-identified in 99.98% of cases with sufficient data). This means that a lot more data could end up in transit than users think.

When it comes to the type of user data shared by applications, it is most often data related to interactions with applications, application crashes, and diagnostics.

However, a significant number of apps share personal information such as names (4.77%), email addresses (6.77%) and home addresses (3.85%).

Even more concerning is that many apps share your location history: 13.4% of apps share your approximate location, while 3.85% share your exact location. Even apps marketed as security tools share your exact location.

Some apps even share photos, videos, files, documents, messages, race, religion, and sexual orientation. Some of the most shared sensitive information includes email addresses, financial information, and files and documents.

The study also looked at how developers handle the transfer of user data. The researchers found that 4.9% of apps do not encrypt users’ personal data in transit, and less than half of apps mention data encryption in transit, which could mean the actual percentage of apps that don’t encrypt data is much higher.

Should we be worried about all of the above? That.

Is there anything we can do to protect our data and privacy? Incogni advises users to avoid downloading unnecessary apps, to be sure to check the data security section of any app they intend to download, to enter fake data whenever possible, and to ask apps to delete their data when they’re done using the service.

Be aware that many apps sell your data to brokers who trade on users’ personal data, who then sell it to someone else, or even to cybercriminals.

Source: by

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