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NO SUCH TH NG

AS A FREE
APP?
ByTedJanusz

ow many apps do you have on your


smartphone? According to Nielsen,
the average Android or iPhone user
accesses about 27 applications on his device
each month, spending, on average, more
than an hour a day with these apps.

iOS free apps and

You were probably happy to download many of these

helpful apps to your phone, especially those you could


place there for free. But did you realize there may be a
hidden cost to these newfound utilities? That cost could
be your privacy.
Most of the popular mobile apps collect a variety of
personal data from users, including information about
your location, your address book contacts, and your
calendar, according to a survey by business security
company Appthority and a new investigative report by
The WalI Street Journal.

Unique serial numbers, called UDIDs, are embedded


into your mobile phone.
Appthority explains, 'Access to UDIDs is a concern
because with a unique device identifier, developers can
correlate user behavior across multiple apps (even ifthey
have different usernames and passwords for each ofthe
apps) and then match them to

unique user. While Apple

has prohibited iOS developers from using

a professional

speaker on the topic


of "social media

for baby boomers,"


author, and marketing
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UDIDs

as a

Appthority discovered
that the new rule is only enforced on devices which are
running the latest version of iOS.
means to track and identifi, users,

"Paid iOS apps surprisingly collect more data and share

that information with more third parties than Android


paid apps, makingiOs slightly more riskythanAndroid,"
says Appthortiy. "On the whole, free apps remain the
most risky category, exhibiting the greatest number of
risky behaviors across both platforms."

What lnformation?
User location is tracked by 82 percent ofthe top Android

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free apps and 49 percent ofthe top Android paid apps,


as well as by 50 percent ofthe top iOS free apps and 24
percent ofthe top iOS paid apps.
Address book information is accessed by 30 percent
ofthe top Android free apps and 14 percent ofthe top

cnm or 614.440.7487.

Android paid apps, along with 26 percent of the top

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He can be
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14

INTERNAT|ONAL PARKTNG tNST|TUTE I

percent ofthe top iOS paid apps.

"You might not expect

flashlight app or a calculator

to track your location," says Bill Snyder, a San Francisco

technology and business journalist, "but many do."

whv?
"One of the main reasons app developers initiate app
tracking is to generate supplementary revenue by sharing
app user data with advertising networks and analyics
companies. In some cases, particularly with free apps,
developers are paid based on the amount of data they
collect and share about users," says Appthority.

App developers even transmit full address books.


Why? One reason is to expand their customer base.

How Does itWork?

TED JANUSZ is

Personal details, such as age and gendeq are also


harvested by many of the top apps.

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What Do Customers Think?


According to a pollby TheWaIl Street Journal that asked,
"Do you think apps should te11 you when they collect and
send information about the mobile device," 67.9 percent
said, 'Yes, every time," and 23.2 percent said, 'Yes, but
only when I first install the app."
But have you ever had an application tell you that it
is collecting and sending information to its developer
about you?

What's Collected?
The Wall Street Journal analyzed the data collected
and shared by 101 popular apps on iPhone and Android

phones (including the J ournal's own iPhone app). What


it found was surprising.
My iPhone, for example, tracks the following through
trvo popular apps I downloaded:
6 ESPN ScoreCenter-username, password, location
and phone ID are sent to the app owner.
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The Weather Channel-location and phone ID are


sent to

third parties.

To determine the behavior of the specific apps you


have downloaded onto your mobile device, access
The Wall Street Journdl's chart at blogs.wsj.com/
wtk-mobile
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