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RESEARCHERS AT YALE Privacy Lab and French nonprofit Exodus Privacy have documented the proliferation of tracking software on smartphones, finding that weather, flashlight, rideshare, and dating apps, among others, are infested with dozens of different types of trackers collecting vast amounts of information to better target advertising.
Exodus security researchers identified 44 trackers in more than 300 apps for Google’s Android smartphone operating system. The apps, collectively, have been downloaded billions of times. Yale Privacy Lab, within the university’s law school, is working to replicate the Exodus findings and has already released reports on 25 of the trackers.
Among the Android apps identified by the researchers were, with six or seven trackers each, dating apps Tinder and OkCupid, the Weather Channel app, and Superbright LED Flashlight; the app for digital music service Spotify, which embedded four trackers, including two from Google; ridesharing service Uber, with three trackers; and Skype, Lyft, Accuweather, and Microsoft Outlook
Tinder’s heavy use of trackers means the company has been able to make use of behavior analytics, and also to accept payment from shaving supply company Gillette for highly targeted research: Do college-aged male Tinder users with neatly-groomed facial hair receive more right swipes than those with untidy facial hair?
Capabilities of the trackers uncovered by Exodus include targeting users based on third-party data, identifying offline movement through machine learning, tracking behavior across devices, uniquely identifying and correlating users, and targeting users who abandon shopping carts. Most trackers work by deriving an identification code from your mobile device or web browser and sharing it with third parties to more specifically profile you. App makers can even tie data collected from trackers with their own profiles of individuals, including names and account details. Some tracking companies say they anonymize data, and have strict rules against sharing publicly identifiable information, but the sheer wealth of data collected can make it possible to identify users even in the face of such safeguards.
Meet the Trackers
Google has a vested interest in allowing liberal use of trackers in apps distributed through Google Play: One of the most ubiquitous in-app trackers is made by Google’s DoubleClick ad platform, which targets users by location and across devices and channels, segments users based on online behavior, connects to personally identifiable information, and offers data sharing and integration with various advertising systems. DoubleClick’s tracker is found in many popular apps, including Tinder and OkCupid, Lyft and Uber, Spotify, the Weather Channel and Accuweather, and the popular flashlight apps Superbright LED flashlight and LED light.
“The technotronic era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values. Soon it will be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date complete files containing even the most personal information about the citizen. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities. ”
― Zbigniew Brzeziński, Between Two Ages: America's Role in the Technetronic Era
originally posted by: mysterioustranger
a reply to: dug88
Some stores offing their apps to have groceries ready for you... Or McDonalds having your orders ready... and they toute the super "convenience"of these... when their whole purpose is to track your life and preferences to flood you with spam.
First thing I got rid of was a flashlight app once I found out they are all just trackers with special 'permissions" we grant them having nothing to do with lighting my way or any "convenience".
It's intense and scary.... "Credit Karma!? It's FREE!!!!! "