Report says certain Android apps send Facebook personal data without obtaining consent

Laverne Mann
January 3, 2019

The report also suggest that the some of the apps are sending detailed data to Facebook while other gave sensitive information. Overall, the investigation revealed that 42.55 percent of the apps on the Google Play store could be shared with Facebook (according to measurements by third-party trackers across web and mobile).

Why it matters: Facebook is still tracking what apps a user opens even if they don't have a Facebook account.

Privacy International, a UK-based campaign group, found that TripAdvisor, Kayak, MyFitnessPal and Skyscanner are just a few of the many Android apps that are sending sensitive user data to Facebook.

When app developers complained about the problem to Facebook, the company said that an SDK update would fix the issue, but many popular apps are not using it.

Facebook and its leadership are coming under intense scrutiny at the moment amid ongoing concern about the tech giant's handling of user data.

Among the apps that were identified in the study, Skyscanner insisted that it was "not aware" that it was sending user data without consent.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said privacy protection is the company's top priority in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

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". If you consider the fact that multiple apps are contributing to your profile, that means Facebook can create a pretty accurate profile.

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

The report from Privacy International points out that a person with a Muslim prayer app, period tracker, Indeed and a children's app could be identified as likely a female, Muslim, job-seeking parent - even if they had never identified themselves as any of those things on Facebook.

If combined, event data such as "App installed", "SDK Initialized" and "Deactivate app" from different apps also offer a detailed insight into the app usage behavior of hundreds of millions of people.

It makes no difference if people are logged out of Facebook, or don't have an account. One example is fare aggregator Kayak, which sends Facebook information on the flights you searched for on the app, the departure date of any flights you looked up, the airports involved, the number of people traveling, class of tickets and more.

Further, the report highlights recommendations for users on how to protect their data.

What is perhaps most worrying is that there is no way to tell just how Facebook is using the data that is collected in this rather underhand manner.

A new report has now surfaced online suggesting that some of the Android apps are sharing users' personal information with Facebook without their consent.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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