'Nine in ten' Android apps send data to Google

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As reported by The Verge, Android users have complained about the issue since May, with the app mysteriously downloading gigabytes of mobile data in the background.

"The Google News app is randomly using a ridiculous amount of background data without users' knowledge".

'This paper presents an empirical study of the prevalence of third-party trackers on 959,000 apps from the USA and UK Google Play stores. "I was on Fi, luckily, so my bill capped at $60 (I enjoyed slow data for a week, though, and Google said they could do nothing about that??) My husband's bill just came in at $385 from Verizon".

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"This put Google top of the list of potential beneficiaries of third-party app data".

This information could involve details used to serve personalised advertising, such as age, gender and location, while many applications allow users to login using their Google or Facebook account. Among other things, the researchers explain that data collection "enables construction of detailed profiles about individuals, which could include inferences about shopping habits, socio-economic class or likely political opinions". And considering the online advertising industry has revenues of more than £45 billion in the USA alone, there's some serious incentive to track what you're doing.

"It feels like this legitimate business model has gone completely out of control and created a kind of chaotic industry that is not understood by the people who are most affected by it", Mr Binns said.

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"We have clear policies and guidelines for how developers and third-party apps can handle data and we require developers to be transparent and ask for user permission". It goes on to explain how such third-party trackers use first-party mobile applications to link user activity across multiple apps to a single person, along with that person's activity on other devices and elsewhere on the web. As such, data sharing has become rampant.

Not so long ago, we witnessed the release of Google News as a replacement of Google Play Stand and Google News & Weather app.

Google added that it disagreed with the methodology of the study. "It mischaracterises ordinary functional services like crash reporting and analytics, and how apps share data to deliver those services".

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