WSJ Reveals That Smartphone Apps Share User Info With Ad Companies
December 23, 2010 by Special To Personal Liberty
A 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.