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Researchers Find Apps Aren’t Recording Your Conversations (But Some Are Grabbing Screenshots)

05 July, 2018, 23:21 | Author: Rafael Roberts
  • Leaky apps

They just didn't find any evidence in their scientific study. Your phone may not be listening to you, but it's snitching on you in a host of other ways.

A group of five researchers from Northeastern University in Boston analysed the traffic generated by different smartphone applications to see whether they really eavesdropped on their users to send cues to Facebook for targeted advertisement.

Elleen Pan, Jingjing Ren, Martina Lindorfer, Christo Wilson, and David Choffnes from Northeastern University conducted an experiment for a year involving 17,260 Android apps trying to see if any of them use the phones' microphone to record audio covertly. If that weren't bad enough, they also found that many apps were asking for access to sensors that they didn't use, creating a sort of backdoor. It also noted a lot of apps sent your information to third parties without disclosing it, such as using cloud processing to handle data, which could expose your information to pretty much anybody with the skills to take a look. On the bright side, the researchers "found no evidence" that apps are sneakily snooping in on your conversations.


The National Security Agency is deleting millions of phone call and text records it wasn't authorized to keep; chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge reports from Washington. But they did find that some apps were sending screen recordings and screenshots to third parties. They attributed this possibility to a limitation of the research that an automated system can not create usernames or sign in like humans. For example, when one of the phones used an app from GoPuff, a delivery start-up for people who have sudden cravings for junk food, the interaction with the app was recorded and sent to a domain affiliated with Appsee, a mobile analytics company. When the researchers contacted the developer, GoPuff reportedly updated its privacy policy to specifically mention Apsee [sic] being handed over Personally Identifiable Information (PII). "After reviewing the researchers' findings, we determined that a part of AppSee's services may put some developers at risk of violating Play policy". However, AppSee claims that GoPuff should have informed its end-users way beforehand that its data was recorded and sent to us for analytical and performance optimisation purposes.

Facebook isn't spying on everything you say. Usually, the proof is that you talked about something with a friend and then suddenly there's an ad for it. And this is being sent to third-party entities.

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