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Android Apps Send Private Info

Some Android apps don't disclose how much personal information they forward.
Some Android apps don’t disclose how much personal information they forward.

OCT. 1, 2010 • Both Penn State University and Intel Labs have found 15 Android apps were discovered to be sending private information, as well as relaying GPS coordinates to remote advertising network servers as often as every 30 seconds whether advertisements were displayed or not. The Android OS requires that app request for such information access during the installation process, but that doesn’t mean such prompts fully disclose the extent of the privacy invasion.

Impact: In both mobile and social media gaming spaces where advertising revenue has had much more relative traction compared to console and online PC gaming, privacy has been the single biggest consumer issue as the ability to increase revenue per user is related to the amount of personal information advertisers have access to.  Part of the appeal of mobile advertising is potentially delivering ad content within the context of a user’s approximate, or even exact, location. One of the drawbacks of impulse mobile app buys, games included, is that consumers do not give them all that much thought. That’s a recipe for trouble when an innocuous looking request during installation pops up. As the trend is for more payment and transaction options moving to mobile phones, Google may have to rethink some of its open source treatment of Android, in favor of more oversight of the apps that are being pushed to the OS.  Due to the rise of ad supported mobile games, there is potentially a bigger issue on the horizon for the mobile games space as the right balance between privacy and commerce opportunities gets sorted out.  Any storm that brews over this on Android will be felt on the iPhone as well.

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