Sep 30, 2010
Come one, come all -- let's gather and act shocked, shall we? It's no secret that Google's Android Market is far easier to penetrate than Apple's App Store, which is most definitely a double-edged sword. On one hand, you aren't stuck waiting a lifetime for Apple to approve a perfectly sound app; on the other, you may end up accidentally downloading some Nazi themes that scar you for life. A curious team of scientists from Intel Labs, Penn State and Duke University recently utilized a so-called TaintDroid extension in order to log and monitor the actions of 30 Android apps -- 30 that were picked from the 358 most popular. Their findings? That half of their sample (15, if you're rusty in the math department) shared location information and / or other unique identifiers (IMEI numbers, phone numbers, SIM numbers, etc.) with advertisers. Making matters worse, those 15 didn't actually inform end-users that data was being shared, and some of 'em beamed out information while applications were dormant. Unfortunately for us all, the researchers didn't bother to rat out the 15 evil apps mentioned here, so good luck resting easy knowing that your library of popular apps could be spying on you right now.
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Update: A Google spokesperson pinged up with an official response to the study, and you can peek it after the break.Update 2: Looks as if the full study (PDF) has been outed, with the 30 total apps named. Here they are: The Weather Channel, Cestos, Solitaire, Movies, Babble, Manga Browser, Bump, Wertago, Antivirus, ABC - Animals, Traffic Jam, Hearts, Blackjack, Horoscope, 3001 Wisdom Quotes Lite, Yellow Pages, Dastelefonbuch, Astrid, BBC News Live Stream, Ringtones, Layer, Knocking, Barcode Scanner, Coupons, Trapster, Spongebob Slide, ProBasketBall, MySpace, ixMAT, and Evernote.