App Trackers: Worse Than You Think

What we’re looking at here is the logo for the εxodus privacy auditing program, a French nonprofit which, with help from the Yale Privacy Lab, has published a database of trackers found in popular Android apps. And there are a lot more of them than you’d expect.

Most people would understand that an app like Uber would need to track you in order to ascertain your location when you request a car. And since the Uber app is downloaded from the Google Play Store it’s not much of a reach to imagine that Google too is tracking downloads of that app, and likely taking stock of the other apps installed on your Android device as well. But what you might not expect is that Uber is also very much in the business of reselling your location history and other data via third party trackers.

Some of the offenders mentioned by name in The Intercept’s coverage of this project include AccuWeather, Lyft, Microsoft Outlook, Skype, Spotify, Tinder, Uber and The Weather Channel.

Any iPhone users reading this should resist any urge to feel smug; as Cory Doctorow reports, these same trackers almost certainly exist in the iOS versions of the same apps, but it’s illegal to break Apple’s DRM to prove it.

Links: εxodusCory Doctorow, The Intercept

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