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Pandora and other Mobile Apps Transmits Personal Data

Discussion in 'Off-topic Zone' started by Sam I Am, Apr 7, 2011.

  1. Sam I Am

    Sam I Am Unfriendly and Aloof!

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    This should be a crime punishable for a minimum of five years in prison for both the thief and the knowing recipient of such data.

    I will have an app and when it ask to update and all the sudden wants network and GPS access, I immediately uninstall it. What the hell does a Bejeweled type app need network and GPS access for?

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    An article in the Wall Street Journal, dated April 5, 2011, disclosed that Federal prosecutors in New Jersey are investigating numerous smart phone application manufacturers for allegedly, illegally obtaining and distributing personal private information to third party advertisement groups. The allegations state that mobile applications are gathering data such as GPS location, device identifiers, gender, and even user age without proper notice or authorization from the end user. The Journal tested 101 applications and found that 56 of them transmitted the device unique identifier off the device, while 47 transmitted the phone’s location. Five of the tested applications leaked personal information such as user gender and age.

    Analysis

    The folks at the Veracode research team decided to spend a bit of our time today breaking apart one of the accused applications to see what could be found within the code. Given what was written in the Journal article, we thought it would be most interesting to take an in-depth look through the Pandora application for the Android platform. A quote from the article states the following about the Pandora application:


    In Pandora’s case, both the Android and iPhone versions of its app transmitted information about a user’s age, gender, and location, as well as unique identifiers for the phone, to various advertising networks. Pandora gathers the age and gender information when a user registers for the service.

    Complete Story
  2. theogt

    theogt Surrealist Zone Supporter

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    Both me and my wife have Pandora and a ton of apps on our iPhones. A few weeks ago we were in what I will call a specialty store (nothing kinky). While it's a specialty store, it's also a "big box" meaning it's a chain that has stores all across the US. We didn't buy anything or give anyone our information, as we were just browsing. A week later we get a catalog in the mail for that store. Probably pure coincidence, but it totally weirded me out. This is not the sort of store that would just mass mail out catalogs to anyone and there's really no other way I can determine how they'd know we were in the market for what they sell. Just odd.
  3. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Brotherhood of the Beard Staff Member

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    I have noticed quite a few apps will ask if it can use my location. Most of the time I just click no and continue. I don't recall any of them not letting me install if I refused to let them use the location.

    Of course there are some that you need to let them know your location for various reasons.

    However I did not know that they were taking that other info. Where is that other info located on your phone as far as age and gender?
  4. theogt

    theogt Surrealist Zone Supporter

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    For Pandora, for example, if you subscribe to the service, they have all of the information in their database already. If you have a Yelp account, it could have your information already. Obviously you want Yelp to know your location because its whole purpose is finding things near you. So, they can essentially monitor where you're at at all times.
  5. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Brotherhood of the Beard Staff Member

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    I have pandora but I don't remember filling out anything. Must have because I have used it before.
  6. theogt

    theogt Surrealist Zone Supporter

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    You may have only given them an e-mail address. They have more information for me because I subscribe to their pay service. I subscribe to skip commercials and play stoppages since I keep Pandora playing throughout the day.

    So long as companies only use the information to provide me with things they know I already like, that's fine. But I'm glad there's someone out there being a watch dog for me.
  7. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Brotherhood of the Beard Staff Member

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    Yeah that must be it as I get the ads every so often.

    But I really don't use it that much anymore.

    I listen to Tune In radio mostly. Great for some podcasts and such.

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