2010
09.30

Surprise: Some Apps are Sneaky

Some news regarding smartphone applications has been circling the Web this week, and it’s not the kind of news that makes you feel warm and fuzzy. On the contrary, it’s a bit creepy, and it shows how quickly the media and the public tend to get riled up about supposed invasions of privacy.

The news comes from the results of a joint study conducted by Intel Labs, Penn State, and Duke University. Basically, the study found that some smartphone apps are releasing consumers’ private information to online advertisers.

By monitoring the flow of smartphone data, researchers found that out of 30 popular applications, 15 sent users’ location information to advertiser servers. Some of the apps did even more than that, in some cases even sending out a unique phone identifier.

And while researchers said that many apps are just using the information to enhance the user experience, consumers have to trust that their data won’t be used for other purposes. It seems that downloadable apps need to have clear privacy policies so users know exactly how data is being used. It’s doubtful consumers would ever turn their backs on apps, due to their extremely high popularity, but it’s just common courtesy to tell people if they are being tracked.

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