These Popular Android Apps Are Sharing Your Data With Facebook Without Permission

These Popular Android Apps Are Sharing Your Data With Facebook Without Permission

IT

We found that at least 61 percent of apps we tested automatically transfer data to Facebook the moment a user opens the app. That happened regardless of whether or not the person was signed in to Facebook or had an account at all. After spot testing 34 popular (10-500 million users) Android apps, the group found that 23 of them were sending data over to Facebook without any kind of user consent - and even for those without a Facebook account.

However, some apps like Kayak were found sending sensitive data to Facebook. But as Privacy International points out, this doesn't stop the apps from tracking users, or using collected data for non advertising purposes.

"We were not aware that data was being sent to Facebook in this way without prior consent from our users, which went against our own internal rules on the integration of third-party technologies". If you consider the fact that multiple apps are contributing to your profile, that means Facebook can create a pretty accurate profile.

"If combined, data from different apps can paint a fine-grained and intimate picture of people's activities, interests, behaviors and routines, some of which can reveal special category data, including information about people's health or religion", Privacy International claims.

Read about the saga of Facebook's failures in ensuring privacy for user data, including how it relates to Cambridge Analytica, the GDPR, the Brexit campaign, and the 2016 USA presidential election.

Privacy International said it tested the apps between August and December 2018, "with the last re-test happening between 3 and 11 of December 2018".

Privacy International was not able to determine for sure how Facebook uses this data since they aren't very transparent with these matters.

In a response to Privacy International, Facebook acknowledged that developers didn't have the option to disable transmission of the "SDK initialized" data before June. Again, this concerns data of people who are either logged out of Facebook or who do not have a Facebook account.

"We also wanted to note that many companies offer the types of services you cover in the report and, like Facebook, they also get information from the apps and sites that use them in a similar manner".

"A prime example is the travel search and price comparison app Kayak, which sends detailed information about people's flight searches to Facebook, including: departure city, departure airport, departure date, arrival city, arrival airport, arrival date, number of tickets (including number of children), class of tickets (economy, business or first class)", Privacy International says.

Facebook doesn't exactly have a pristine reputation, but on a certain level it's surprising nonetheless when a new scandal concerning the social media giant breaks out - after all, just how many more surprises can it manage?

  • Terrell Bush