Federal prosecutors in New Jersey are investigating whether numerous mobile apps on smartphone (iphone, ipad, blackberry, android phone) illegally obtained or transmitted information about their users without proper disclosures and permissions..
According to a report on the WSJ, the criminal investigation is examining whether the app makers fully described to users the types of data they collected and why they needed the information such as a user’s location or a unique identifier for the phone.
A recent study by WSJ that tested 101 Apps in various categories discovered some shocking facts!
- Over 50% of the Apps (56 of the 101) transmitted the phone’s unique device identifier (UID) to other companies without users’ awareness or consent.
- 47 apps transmitted the phone’s location in some way.
- 5 app even sent the phone user’s age, gender and other personal details to outsiders.
- 45 apps didn’t even provide privacy policies on their websites or inside the apps.
The apps and app makers who received the subpoena related to the federal grand-jury investigation of information-sharing practices by smartphone applications includes wildly popular apps like Pandora as well as lesser known apps like the Pumpkin Maker iPhone app.
The Wall Street Journal reported in December of 2010 that popular applications on the iPhone and Android mobile phones , including Pandora , transmit information about the phones , their users and their locations to outsiders , including advertising networks.
According to the WSJ report, Apple and Google, which both oversee the 2 biggest digital “app stores” in the world, offering mobile apps to iPhones , iPads and android powered mobile-devices, have been asked to provide information about the apps as well as the app makers (app developers?).
[read more on online.WSJ.com ]