Technology These popular apps are sharing personal data with dozens of companies, study says
Apple says its App Store is ‘a safe and trusted place.’ We found 1,500 reports of unwanted sexual behavior on six apps, some targeting minors.
The complaints about popular social media platforms that connect strangers in video conversations, known as “random chat apps,” serve as digital cries for help. “A man who is sick in the head and disgusting decided to show some things that shouldn’t have been shown,” read one review of the app Monkey in September. Another one from last month warned, “This is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Predators are all over this site.
Ten popular apps -- including Tinder, and -- 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.
The study, released Tuesday by the Norwegian Consumer Council (Forbrukerradet), found that the apps, which also included 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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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."
Cybersecurity firm discovers 17 Android apps that secretly flood users' phones with pop-up ads even when they're not running
Cybersecurity firm Bitdefender has discovered a group of 17 apps on the Google Play store that will randomly run ads on a user's phone, even when the apps are closed. These apps include a barcode scanner, a car racing game, a weather app, an ovulation cycle tracker, several 4K wallpaper apps, and a QR code scanner.Though it appears the apps come from different developers, they have similar effects on a users phone.After each is downloaded, they’re designed to operate normally for several hours to avoid detection, then they split their core files into multiple directories to further evade malware detection tools.
The other apps citeddidn'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. "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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