Many Smartphone Apps Give Away Your Data Without Consent

By Alexis C. Madrigal

The Wall Street Journal's outstanding investigation into how online tools track us continues today with a look at mobile apps. According to the Journal, dozens of the 101 smartphone apps they tested transmitted users' phones' unique IDs, personal details, and location data without user consent. Worse yet, the apps provide little control over stopping the transmissions, which often go to advertising firms.

Smartphone users are all but powerless to limit the tracking. With few exceptions, app users can't "opt out" of phone tracking, as is possible, in limited form, on regular computers. On computers it is also possible to block or delete "cookies," which are tiny tracking files. These techniques generally don't work on cellphone apps. The makers of TextPlus 4, Pandora and Grindr say the data they pass on to outside firms isn't linked to an individual's name. Personal details such as age and gender are volunteered by users, they say. The maker of Pumpkin Maker says he didn't know Apple required apps to seek user approval before transmitting location. The maker of Paper Toss didn't respond to requests for comment.

Read the full story at The Wall Street Journal.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2010/12/many-smartphone-apps-give-away-your-data-without-consent/68241/