Android Apps Caught Sending GPS Info to Advertisers

Discussion in 'Droid Forums Member News Depot' started by importune, Sep 30, 2010.

  1. importune
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    importune Theme Developer Theme Developer

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    "The results of a study conducted by researchers from Duke University, Penn State University, and Intel Labs have revealed that a significant number of popular Android applications transmit private user data to advertising networks without explicitly asking or informing the user. The researchers developed a piece of software called TaintDroid that uses dynamic taint analysis to detect and report when applications are sending potentially sensitive information to remote servers.

    They used TaintDroid to test 30 popular free Android applications selected at random from the Android market and found that half were sending private information to advertising servers, including the user's location and phone number. In some cases, they found that applications were relaying GPS coordinates to remote advertising network servers as frequently as every 30 seconds, even when not displaying advertisements. These findings raise concern about the extent to which mobile platforms can insulate users from unwanted invasions of privacy."


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  2. Hugh Jass
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    Hugh Jass Senior Member

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    This is open source and it's the risk we take, plain and simple.
     
  3. importune
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    importune Theme Developer Theme Developer

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    Of course it is a risk we take, that doesn't mean its right. These things still need to be addressed- personal data should not be shared with anyone that is not authorized, and I'd say my exact location at any given time is pretty personal. If they are caught, they should be stopped or held accountable for something like this.
     
  4. Darkseider
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    Darkseider Senior Member

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    Why does anyone really give a rats ass? It transmits GPS co-ordinates? Whoopedee do! Disable your GPS until you need it, which by the way is standard practice to conserve battery life. Phone number, IMEI, etc... ok, whatever floats their boat. It's not like I am getting called or for that matter having advertisers run up to me based on the GPS info sent. If anything this is no more than creating a demographic for advertisers, app developers, etc...
     
  5. pandroid
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    pandroid Theme Developer Theme Developer

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    actually, opensource prevents things like this. android is whats opensource. the apps that are developed for it, for the most part, are not.

    if an app is opensource, that means anyone can go in and see exactly what its doing. take a look at windows/osx. who knows how many backdoors it has, how much information its sending back to HQ about you usage/installed apps/etc.

    now take a look at linux, its opensource. we know exactly whats going on behind the scene. all you gotta do is take a look at the source code

    opensource for life!!!
     
  6. pandroid
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    pandroid Theme Developer Theme Developer

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    i for one dont want to be tracked for any reason. and turning off gps doesnt stop the app from hiding in the background and grabbing your coordinates when it IS on.
     
  7. Darkseider
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    Darkseider Senior Member

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    OK, and? I don't like to be tracked as much as the next guy but as long as your phone is on NO GPS and NO APPS running you can be tracked using service tower triangulation. While nowhere near as accurate as GPS tracking it can still place you to within a few hundred meters. This is true of smartphones and dumbphones. So in all reality the whole location tracking thing is pretty much pointless. Phone number and IMEI? Meh. Call me, that's what a blacklist is for.
     
  8. pandroid
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    pandroid Theme Developer Theme Developer

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    you just proved my point. turning off GPS wont do anything if the app can use triangulation. are you going to turn off GPS and CDMA/GSM when opening apps. and then keep an eye on all your running apps making sure nothing is running in the background when you dont want it to?

    as i said, i dont want to be tracked. and apps that do, need to be exposed. its a shame the people which did this study didnt post a list of 'phone home' apps
     
  9. dbn
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    dbn New Member

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    Short of taking the battery out of the phone, there is no way to stop someone from tracking you if they want to.
     
  10. Darkseider
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    Darkseider Senior Member

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    Well said. Nothing could be more true. Regardless if the app phones home or if it reads a log, etc... The MOMENT you turn your phone on and wireless communication of any kind is established you're done. Do you honestly for one minute think that by stopping these 30 phone home apps this will stop tracking? It really is a null and moot point. Do you drive a car and use EZ-Pass? If so guess what. You're being tracked. Do you use an ATM card or credit card? You're being tracked AND video taped. You posting on this website allows me to grab your IP, trace it to the ISP and at a minimum get a state and with a little digging the county you are in.
     
  11. importune
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    importune Theme Developer Theme Developer

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    Wow people, the point isn't rather or not they can, or rather or not it's practical to stop them ourselves, the point is that it is a violation of privacy to do so. Tapping phone lines is illegal, as this should be. It doesn't mean its impossible to do, or even difficult, it simply means it is wrong.
     
  12. pandroid
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    pandroid Theme Developer Theme Developer

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    double post... oops
     
  13. pandroid
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    pandroid Theme Developer Theme Developer

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    all apps should be tested to see if they phone home. i guess thats a big task, but at least they should provide that taintdroid app so people who are worried can test there apps themselves. then maybe make an option to upload the results to a server and compile a list of safe/unsafe apps

    luckily. im in a country with no CDMA, so i cant call using my droid. my gps doesnt work here either. and my other cellphone sits at home. ive have no ez-pass or credit card. as for my IP, you could get my city i guess. but i could always go through hotspot shield, tor and several proxies... but thats taking it too far. i dont have anything to hide but nevertheless i dont want to be tracked

    i think im safe... for now:)

    moral of the story... dont trust technology if your hiding something
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2010
  14. dbn
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    dbn New Member

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    Privacy laws vary from state to state and country to country. In some states it would be completely legal for me to record a conversation without notifying the other party, for example.

    If you belong to a social network or an online forum, you should assume that the information you enter on those sites is being sold to advertisers along with queries you enter into a search engine.

    If you take your internet security seriously, then you should put in the time to research the solutions instead of relying on someone else to do it for you.
     
  15. importune
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    importune Theme Developer Theme Developer

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    Wow, again. I'm not saying that this is an outrage- I'm saying its morally wrong.
     
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