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Report shows just how much of your location data apps are sharing

By midian182 · 8 replies
Dec 11, 2018
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  1. While location data is anonymous and not tied to names or phone numbers, the NYT found that users’ daily patterns, such as where they sleep and places they visit, could be used to figure out their identity.

    The Times tested 20 popular apps and found that 17 of them sent precise location data to about 70 businesses. One popular application, WeatherBug (on iOS), sent it to 40 companies. Out of these 17 apps, just three on iOS and one on Android notified users during the permissions process that their data could be used for advertising, while only one indicated it could be shared to “analyze industry trends.”

    “These companies sell, use or analyze the data to cater to advertisers, retail outlets and even hedge funds seeking insights into consumer behavior,” writes the publication.

    Some of the apps tested by the NYT include the Weather Channel, theScore, GasBuddy, DC Metro and Bus, Tube Map - London Underground, Perfect365, SnipSnap Coupon App, and Masha and the Bear: Free Animal Games for Kids.

    The report arrives at a time when privacy has become one of the biggest issues for consumers. With Facebook and Google already under scrutiny for their use of customers’ data, reports such as this one could increase support for GDPR-style data protection regulations in the US.

    Permalink to story.

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 11, 2018
  2. Steveb8189

    Steveb8189 TS Booster Posts: 42   +29

    " It reveals people’s travels accurate to within a few years, and in some cases, the information is updated over 14,000 times per day."

    I'm not too worried at that level of accuracy!
    UaPro and Jeff Re like this.
  3. ShagnWagn

    ShagnWagn TS Guru Posts: 733   +566

    I use two on android - weatherbug and gasbuddy. Both I use rarely. This is a big invasion of privacy and stealing of my person info. So they are tracking me even when I'm not even using the app? There is a huge problem with that. I'm uninstalling both right now, then only install gas buddy briefly to look up a station when traveling. I wouldn't put it past them if they still leave some kind of tracking/sharing remnants on my phone.

    I only have GPS location enabled so apps supposedly don't crawl through wireless networks.

    Sometimes I wonder if these apps are getting kickbacks from cell companies for making customers use so much more data and get extra data charges. These "free" games that stream 60 second advertisement videos every 30 seconds of gameplay are a big problem. They don't even cache them and stream the same ones over and over again. Hill Climb Racing 2 not only does this, but they also have loot box gambling. Greedy scumbags. I wish we could go back to the pre-smart(stupid) phone era. :(~
    JaredTheDragon likes this.
  4. xxLCxx

    xxLCxx TS Addict Posts: 231   +153

    Most "evil Chinese companies" and free Android versions (such as LineageOS) allow you to restrict what the application can do (sandboxing). In many cases this works. When the application needs online access and your location, you can choose to be asked each time (allow, deny, pass fake information).
    Still, the situation where butt-sniffing is the default is unbearable and entirely Google's fault.
    JaredTheDragon, senketsu and BSim500 like this.
  5. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 3,160   +1,413

    I'm starting to get pretty sick of these stories about privacy. You're not going to convince me I'm a victim of these 'evil' companies tracking my location or personal data. I know they are, I click 'allow' and I don't uninstall their app later.

    Honestly, the only thing that upsets me about it is that there is clearly value in customer data. If my data has value, I should be getting paid for others using it.

    You could argue however, that I am paying for that free weather app by allowing them to collect my data.
    UaPro likes this.
  6. ShagnWagn

    ShagnWagn TS Guru Posts: 733   +566

    So you basically have to root the phone to block it like that? Unfortunately, I am not willing to spend that amount of time to learn a whole new OS. If I did, I would instead learn linux.
  7. xxLCxx

    xxLCxx TS Addict Posts: 231   +153

    You don't have to, if it comes like that. As stated, many Chinese Android versions have this built-in (no rooting required).
  8. ckm88

    ckm88 TS Addict Posts: 166   +119

    Come on everyone, none of your data is safe or confidential. This is 2018!
  9. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 12,896   +1,530

    The Times article is excellent (and even the presentation is exquisite) and so is How to Control Location access

    The latter clearly declares that Android devices lack such fine-grain control -- is basically all or nothing.

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