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Tag Archives for " app "

How the U.S. Military Buys Location Data from Ordinary Apps

A Muslim prayer app with over 98 million downloads is one of the apps connected to a wide-ranging supply chain that sends ordinary people’s personal data to brokers, contractors, and the military.

The U.S. military is buying the granular movement data of people around the world, harvested from innocuous-seeming apps, Motherboard has learned. The most popular app among a group Motherboard analyzed connected to this sort of data sale is a Muslim prayer and Quran app that has more than 98 million downloads worldwide. Others include a Muslim dating app, a popular Craigslist app, an app for following storms, and a “level” app that can be used to help, for example, install shelves in a bedroom.

Source: How the U.S. Military Buys Location Data from Ordinary Apps

The Covid App Ecosystem Has Become a Privacy Minefield

An analysis of nearly 500 Covid-related apps worldwide shows major differences in how much data they expect you to give up.

The results show that only 47 of that subset of 359 apps – that handle contact tracing, exposure notification, screening, reporting, workplace monitoring, and Covid information from public health authorities around the globe- use Google and Apple’s more privacy-friendly exposure-notification system, which restricts apps to only Bluetooth data collection.

More than six out of seven Covid-focused iOS apps worldwide are free to request whatever privacy permissions they want, with 59 percent asking for a user’s location when in use and 43 percent tracking location at all times. Albright found that 44 percent of Covid apps on iOS asked for access to the phone’s camera, 22 percent of apps asked for access to the user’s microphone, 32 percent asked for access to their photos, and 11 percent asked for access to their contacts.

Source: The iOS Covid App Ecosystem Has Become a Privacy Minefield | WIRED

Canadian class-action suit against Facebook alleges misuse of personal information

Two Facebook users are seeking damages on behalf of hundreds of thousands of Canadians whose personal data may have been improperly used for political purposes.

The proposed class-action lawsuit filed by Calgary residents Saul Benary and Karma Holoboff asks the Federal Court to order the social-media giant to bolster its security practices to better protect sensitive information and comply with federal privacy law.

It also seeks $1,000 for each of the approximately 622,000 Canadians whose information was shared with others through a digital app.

Source: Canadian class-action suit against Facebook alleges misuse of personal information | CTV News

Facebook says Apple’s new privacy rules could spare its own apps but hit smaller companies

Facebook warned that privacy changes coming from Apple could hurt smaller developers such as gaming companies disproportionately but will likely leave its own apps mostly unscathed.

Facebook said it was making a change to its own apps – which in addition to its flagship app also include WhatsApp and Instagram – that would likely spare them from having to ask iPhone users for data-tracking permissions that many advertising industry insiders believe users will refuse.

Source: Facebook says Apple’s new privacy rules could spare its own apps but hit smaller companies – Reuters

TikTok, WeChat & Co: How does spyware get into smartphones?

TikTok, WeChat and thousands of other apps from China look harmless but are, in fact, malware, experts say. The apps cleverly disguise their origin. How can we protect ourselves from them?

Many apps seem innocuous and harmless to start with. At first, there is only a small back door that an attacker can use later. “Even if you look at the app now, and it is only doing harmless things, the Chinese manufacturer is often able to extend the functionality at runtime,” says founder and CEO of the IT security company CIROSEC. “All of a sudden, the app does completely different things without having been updated somewhere from the app store.”

Source: TikTok, WeChat & Co: How does spyware get into smartphones? | Science| In-depth reporting on science and technology | DW | 27.08.2020

Google and Apple to roll out phase two of contact-tracing system

Apple and Google are preparing to roll out phase two of their Covid-19 contact-tracing system, allowing users to receive notifications about their exposure to infectious people without needing to install a specific app.

Operating system update will allow opt-in to coronavirus exposure notifications without need of an app.

Source: Google and Apple to roll out phase two of contact-tracing system | Technology | The Guardian

Popular fertility app Premom shared data without user consent

The popular fertility app Premom asks users to upload details about their sexual health to receive personalized, remote analysis to help predict how to get pregnant.

But Premom’s app for Android was also collecting a broad swath of data about its users and sharing it without their permission with three Chinese companies focused on advertising.

While many apps use third parties to collect analytics or target ads, IDAC researchers say Premom users had no way of opting out of this tracking by both the app and the third parties that received their data, which IDAC contends was a violation of Google’s rules.

Source: Popular fertility app Premom shared data without user consent, researchers say – The Washington Post

Secret Service Bought Phone Location Data from Apps, Contract Confirms

An internal Secret Service document describes the purchase of Locate X, a product that uses location data harvested from ordinary apps.

The sale highlights the issue of law enforcement agencies buying information, and in particular location data, that they would ordinarily need a warrant or court order to obtain. This contract relates to the sale of Locate X, a product from a company called Babel Street.

Source: Secret Service Bought Phone Location Data from Apps, Contract Confirms

How Smartphone Location Tracking Works, and What You Can Do About It 

Smartphone location data, often used by marketers, has been useful for studying the spread of the coronavirus. But the information raises troubling privacy questions.

The fact that companies are collecting, storing and selling location information about individuals at all presents risks. Hackers or people with access to raw location data could identify or follow a person without consent, by pinpointing, for example, which phone regularly spent time at that person’s home address.

Full article: How Smartphone Location Tracking Works, and What You Can Do About It – The New York Times

U.S. Government Contractor Embedded Software in Apps to Track Phones

Anomaly Six LLC , a small U.S. company with ties to the U.S. defense and intelligence communities has embedded its software in numerous mobile apps, allowing it to track the movements of hundreds of millions of mobile phones world-wide.

Virginia-based company founded by two U.S. military veterans with a background in intelligence, said in marketing material it is able to draw location data from more than 500 mobile applications, in part through its own software development kit, or SDK, that is embedded directly in some of the apps.

Source: U.S. Government Contractor Embedded Software in Apps to Track Phones – WSJ

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