Channel 4 News have uncovered a major privacy issue with Android Market’s permissions settings. With apps having access to your private information such as photos, text messages and contacts, it appears that a considerable number of top 50 free Android apps actually share your data with third parties. While these apps inform you they have access to your information, they don’t let you know whether they will share your content, or when the sharing is taking place.
This privacy issue only looks to be a problem with the free apps with in-app advertising. When you install an app from the Android Market, you give it access to a range of settings within your Android handset. Very few people actually read these settings and it is generally assumed that any private information accessible won’t be shared. That said, many of the free apps extend the access you grant the app, to the in-app advertisers.
What does that mean? If you see an advert in an application, that advertiser could pool your contacts, read your text messages, download your photos and depending on the permissions, explore your mobile behaviour. If you think the issue is limited to Android, it isn’t necessarily. iPhone and iPad applications don’t actually request your permission upon install. While Apple do monitor applications in contrast to Google’s open approach, we can’t be sure iPhone apps don’t offer a similar kind of privacy hole.
The report ends with an affirmative statement from Viviane Reding, VP of the European Commision that collecting data without the consent of users is against European Law.
Check out the video below for more information and for the full report, just head over to the Channel 4.