Your Apps Are Watching You


Scott Thurm and Yukari Iwatani Kane
Wall Street Journal
December 18, 2010

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t
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Few devices know more personal details about people than the smartphones in their pockets: phone numbers, current location, often the owner’s real name—even a unique ID number that can never be changed or turned off.

These phones don’t keep secrets. They are sharing this personal data widely and regularly, a Wall Street Journal investigation has found.

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.

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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.

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