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WSJ Reveals That Smartphone Apps Share User Info With Ad Companies

December 23, 2010 by  

WSJ reveals that smartphone apps share user info with ad companiesA recent investigation by The Wall Street Journal has found that popular smartphone applications are transmitting personal data to other companies without the users' awareness or consent.

The media outlet's report, which examined 101 popular smartphone applications, discovered that more than half of the apps sent the phone's unique device ID to various advertisement networks. A total of 47 apps transmitted the phone's location in some way.

The application TextPlus 4, which is a popular feature on the iPhone, sends the phone's ID number to eight ad companies, as well as the user's age and gender to two organizations. Pandora, a music application for the iPhone and Android, sent personal information and phone identifiers to various ad companies, the news provider reporter.

"In the world of mobile, there is no anonymity," Michael Becker, of the Mobile Marketing Association, told the news provider.

In light of the newspaper's investigation, nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog said that the Federal Trade Commission's proposed Do Not Track Me function — which would prevent online ad companies from retrieving personal data from Web users — should be extended to include smartphones.

"The mobile world is truly the wild frontier; companies don't even bother to pretend. Consumers have no protection at all," said John Simpson, an advocate for Consumer Watchdog.

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  • http://none Mike

    These functions could be used for more than meets the eye as well. And here you thought your phone conversations were privat. Shame on you trying to hide from big brother goverment.Wasent this bandied about in the late Bush adminastration? The wiretapping of all forms of communication? If so we have more than Obama to blame for this one. He simply implimented a plan that was allready in place. Oh and the article says its going to privet companies? Dollars to donuts thats not the only place it goes. Mike L.

  • Tom

    This story has nothing to do with phone conversations or the government. Well, in so far as the government has not implemented limits on companies to share our information between each other. But I don’t see here that they necessarily should do any more than they already have.

    The story only is discussing the implications surrounding the use of phone apps (applications, like games, calendar, and other software we choose to install on our phone). I don’t know about iPhone apps, but in Android apps, before the application is installed, the user is shown what data the application has access to and the user has to agree to install the app. If the user disagrees, they should not install the app.

    I’m confused as to what is news here?

    • ValDM

      So you like having your personal information sold without your permission? You like total strangers knowing more about you than your present girlfriend?

  • independant thinker

    Don’t have a so called “Smart Phone” and have no intention of getting one as long as I can get something else. If the time comes when that is all that is available I will not load all the fancy apps. I carry a cell phone for one reason that being to communicate with another person vocaly if I need/want to.

    • notToMention

      @independant thinker:

      Great, Then this doesn’t pertain to you.

      @everyone else:

      The three most viable options from here seem to be:
      1)Don’t use apps that seem to over reach thier bounds
      2)Lobby the companies to change their policies
      3)Lobby the gov to pass more legislation to regulate these practices

      Right now I fall into the 1st category.

      For mobile apps, I’m personally not too worried at this point because I mostly just consume media via my android phone. I will admit that I use to pay way more attention to the security info in the android market before downloading…should probably start that again.

  • Roger Halstead

    This may be a bit late, but people here seem to be ignoring the big picture. The worry is about apps sharing data, but the danger I see is that of the information transmitted to and from your phone..doesn’t matter if it’s an I-phone, Android, or plain old Motorola that information is recorded and saved on servers. How long it’s saved probably depends on capacity, BUT data has been called up in court cases to show where some one was located by the GPS information in their phone. It’s been ruled that law enforcement doesn’t even need a warrant to access your phone data on those servers. Remember your phone is talking to the cell sites “all the time it is turned on” so there is a record of where you’ve been all the time your phone is on. I am far more concerned about that than a few adds.

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