Back in 2010, The Wall Street Journal was already warning us about app developers’ lack of transparency with regard to their intentions.
“An examination of 101 popular smartphone “apps”—games and other software applications for iPhone and Android phones—showed that 56 transmitted the phone’s unique device ID to other companies without users’ awareness or consent. Forty-seven apps transmitted the phone’s location in some way. Five sent age, gender and other personal details to outsiders. The findings reveal the intrusive effort by online-tracking companies to gather personal data about people in order to flesh out detailed dossiers on them.”
And since then, our level of engagement with mobile apps has only increased (with over 10 billion apps downloaded), while there has not been a lot of movement to prevent applications from accessing your data.
So what to do? Privacy concerns are justified, but there is a limit to what how this information can be utilized. If you feel the urge to free yourself from data tracking, you could delete and avoid apps, or you could provide false information, but that could violate terms of service and might not be effective, anyway.
When downloading an application, make an effort to consider what you are giving up and what you are getting in return, and to consciously decide whether that particular tradeoff is worthwhile.
You can also use mobile security software like McAfee Mobile Security that scans your installed apps to determine the level of access being granted to each of them. This feature then alerts you to apps that may be quietly siphoning data and enjoying unnecessarily extensive control of device’s functionality and then you can decide if you want to keep the app or delete it.
With better insight, you can take more your mobile security and privacy into your own hands.