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EU: Many apps illegally share data

Posted on Monday, March 05 2012 @ 21:02:08 CET by

EU data protection campaigner and EU vice president Viviane Reding spoke out against smartphone applications that illegally share your data. She warned that apps and advertisers "are spotting you, they are following you, they are getting information about your friends, about your wereabouts, about your preferences". Full details at CNET.
Reding, European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, told Channel 4 News that this sort of thing is "exactly what we have to change".

The Luxembourgian politician and former journalist is a champion of data protection, currently pushing for a change to data protection law and recently denouncing Google's new privacy policy.

Channel 4 recruited a digital security company to investigate what apps do with your data. It found that a significant number of apps are illegally passing on the permisions you give them to advertisers, letting advertisers gobble up data about you, your friends, your preferences and habits.
Also out today is a story on ExtremeTech that warns that the Android operating system allows apps access to the pictures stored on your phone, because it works just like your computer.
Android includes a permission system used to restrict apps to certain actions, but reading from the file system isn’t one of them. Only writing to the SD card requires a permission check. By going this route, Android can have a real file system wherein you can save content and manage files the way you want. There are a huge number of apps that benefit from this more open model, and consequently offer you more functionality. Gallery replacements, camera apps, alarms, ringtone editors, and even Dropbox with its new photo upload feature; anything that uses files from your SD card relies on this system.


Unfortunately, all the focus on mobile security has Google issuing knee-jerk reaction PR statements. After being contacted about this story, Google told the New York Times, “… we’re taking another look at this and considering adding a permission for apps to access images.” That would mean a change in the way Android saves your images, and it could actually make it harder for you to manage your own files.



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