updated 09:15 am EST, Mon March 5, 2012
European Commission says Android leaking data
European Commission VP Viviane Reding hinted Android app developers and possibly Google itself might be in legal trouble over app data access. Reacting to a report by the UK's Channel 4 where many top-50 Android apps were allegedly scraping personal data and passing it on to ad suppliers, Reding believed it was "against the law" by accessing data without consent. To her, it was a deceptive practice that could demand a forced change.
"Nobody has the right to get your personal data without you agreeing to this," she said. "Maybe you want somebody to get this data and agree and it's fine. You're an adult and you can do whatever you want. But normally you have no idea what others are doing with your data. They are spotting you, they are following you, they are getting information about your friends, about your whereabouts, about your preferences. That is certainly not what you thought you bought into when you downloaded a free of charge app. That's exactly what we have to change."
The British station had tapped a third-party firm, MWR Infosecurity, to check what top Android apps were sending. Its results showed "a lot" of the free apps' advertisers were using permission granted to the app to scrape similar information for themselves, including calendars, contacts and GPS data. At least MobClix's ad network was blaed for the apparent intrusion.
Google hasn't responded to the accusations. Android's creator has regularly been keen to tout the permission notices ahead of an app install as catching any possible use cases, but the policy doesn't account for what might go to advertisers or other third parties who may be strictly incidental to the app.
Apple has normally had tighter control over what apps are allowed to access, and while apps have had access to contacts, it's not believed that has extended to apps as well. It so far plans to close any unrequested contact sharing through an update, while Google isn't yet known to be changing Android. [via Pocket-lint]