Smartphone – Who is tracking you?
A mobile phone can reveal a lot about one as where he/she lives and work; who is his/her family, friends and acquaintances; how (and even what) he/she communicate with them; and their personal habits. With all the information stored on them, it isn’t surprising that mobile device users take steps to protect their privacy, like PIN’s and Passcodes to unlock their phones.
With Increase use of Smartphones
comes increased data risks. While smartphone users generally agree to share some kind of data with application publishers when they download apps, many are giving up far more personal information than they realize, according to a team of information technology researchers.
Many users find it interesting that they can go to a movie, open Facebook and once it recognise your location, they can click on location with text – “watching movie at PVR Cinema.”
One reason for this: while different apps request different specific permissions, many also share information with the other third-party libraries containing pre-written code to help developers track user engagement and earn money through display ads. And information shared through these libraries isn't usually transparent to users.
More than 70% of the 5,000 apps the researchers studied reported user’s personal data to third-party companies. In fact, through its many tracking domain properties, Google parent company Alphabet alone collected user data from more than 48% of the apps.
The app can send data elsewhere, too. As with websites, many mobile apps are written by combining various functions, coded by other developers and companies, in what are called third-party libraries. These libraries help developers track user engagement, connect with social media and display relevant ads and other features, without having to write them from scratch.
The trackers via the app breach privacy and able to identify mobile users across devices, meaning they could observe activity on Web sites as well as on applications. This could enable companies to develop "a much more complete profile of your online presence and activities.
The data is also shared, sold and shipped across national borders, often to countries with widespread surveillance or less-stringent privacy laws like India, and about some apps for children that were leaking unique identifiers that could be used to pinpoint their physical locations. Tracking such information about children is against Federal law in US.
It’s hard to solve such app-related privacy issues. Blocking sensitive information could negatively affect app performance, and even shifting to a paid-app wouldn't necessarily eliminate user tracking.
More than just a mobile problem
This is just a tip of the iceberg as this can be a much larger problem that spans across regulatory jurisdictions, devices and platforms. Transparency, education and strong regulatory frameworks are the key. Users need to know who is collecting what information about them, and what it’s being used for.
In the end
You can secure your smartphone by downloading only legit apps from their proper source sites. Also you can go in settings and stop the tracking of the apps, which you don’t want to reveal your information to.