A new report has revealed just how often Android applications track smartphone users in order to serve them targeted ads.
The study by the French National Institute for Informatics Research (INIRIA) and the National Commission on Computing and Liberty (CNIL) found that many apps track users multiple times a minute. One unidentified app checked the user’s location one million times in a single month.
In order to collect the data, a monitoring app called Mobilitics was installed on Android devices belonging to 10 different individuals. Over a three-month period, they collectively used a total of 121 apps, recording every time these apps accessed personal data such as location, messages and other identifiers. Mobilitics also noted whenevebr this data was then transmitted to a server.
Nearly two-thirds of the apps accessed at least one type of personal information, 25 per cent accessed at least two, and a sixth of the apps studied accessed three or more identifiers.
The most commonly accessed identifier was location data, which accounted for 30 per cent of all information accessed. The Facebook app, for example, was found to track one particular user’s location 150,000 over the three-month study. While, the Google Play Store was found to access location data 10 times a minute for one individual.
The app found to access location data a startling one million times in a month, checks user information more than 22 times a minute on average.
The study reveals just how easy it is for developers to serve targeted ads to users based on their location data. However, with smartphone users becoming increasingly concerned over their privacy, the report is only likely to raise concerns over how personal data is accessed and used.