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Technology These popular apps are sharing personal data with dozens of companies, study says

22:41  14 january  2020
22:41  14 january  2020 Source:   cnet.com

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Some of the apps are sharing highly personal data , according to a study from the Norwegian In response to the study , a spokesperson for Clue said Monday that it doesn't share users' health or The company does share usage data with Braze, which it says is clearly outlined in its privacy policy

New study finds popular dating and women's health apps are sharing data with at least 135 other companies . While Amazon, Facebook and Google are some of the more popular companies these apps are sharing data with , they're also sharing personal information with companies that are not

Ten popular apps -- including dating services Tinder, OkCupid and Grindr -- are sharing people's personal information with dozens of digital marketing and ad tech companies without explicitly letting users know, according to a new study. The only way for many users to protect their information, the report says, is for them to have never installed the apps at all.

Do you know where your data's going? Getty Images© Provided by CNET Do you know where your data's going? Getty Images

The study, released Tuesday by the Norwegian Consumer Council (Forbrukerradet), found that the apps, which also included period-tracking apps Clue and My Days, were collectively sharing user data with at least 135 advertising-related companies. The shared data included GPS locations and IP addresses, as well as personal details about gender, sexuality and political views, according to the study.

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Dozens of classified documents, provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden and Scooping up information the apps are sending about their users allows the agencies to collect large quantities of mobile phone data from their existing mass surveillance tools – such as cable taps, or

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In response to the study, a spokesperson for Clue said Monday that it doesn't share users' health or menstrual cycle data, and it doesn't sell data to any third-party service, including advertisers. The company does share usage data with Braze, which it says is clearly outlined in its privacy policy, in order to "make improvements to the Clue app and its features."

Match Group, which owns Tinder and OkCupid, said it uses third-party companies to assist with "technical operations and providing our overall services."

"We only share the specific information deemed necessary to operate our platform, in line with the applicable laws including GDPR and CCPA, said a Match Group spokesperson on Monday, referring to the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation and the California Consumer Privacy Act. "All Match Group products obtain from these vendors strict contractual commitments that ensure confidentiality, security of users' personal information and strictly prohibit commercialization of this data."

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A number of popular iOS apps are collecting personal data without users' knowledge. The data collected and shared with these companies amounted to 1.5 gigabytes in total, which for DoorDash said it doesn't sell or share data with third parties, but its privacy policy states that the firm ' is not

Personal data is often compared to oil—it powers today’s most profitable corporations, just like fossil fuels energized those of the past. Social media posts, location data , and search-engine queries may also be revealing but are also typically monetized in a way that, say , your credit card number is not.

  These popular apps are sharing personal data with dozens of companies, study says © Getty Images

The other apps cited in the study didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

"Every day, millions of Americans share their most intimate personal details on these apps, upload personal photos, track their periods and reveal their sexual and religious identities," Burcu Kilic, of Public Citizen, said in a release. "But these apps and online services spy on people, collect vast amounts of personal data and share it with third parties without people's knowledge."

Public Citizen, along with the American Civil Liberties Union of California and nine other advocacy groups, has called on the US Federal Trade Commission, Congress and the attorneys general of three states to investigate the app companies' data-sharing practices.

The study also said the apps didn't clearly inform users that data would be shared with third-party ad companies. Though some of the data-sharing is described in the apps' privacy policies, the descriptions are long, complex and unlikely to be read by consumers, according to the study. The majority of the apps also didn't offer options or settings to prevent or reduce the sharing of data with third-party companies. The NCC said this leaves most people with one option if they don't want their data shared: Don't install the apps at all.

The NCC tweeted that it'll file complaints against six companies based on its findings.

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