Analysis of about 1 million Android Apps (PDF) found that about 90% would send data to Google. Researchers at the University of Oxford analyzed about one-third of the apps available for download in the Google Play Store in 2017 and found that these apps may pass data to multiple third parties with a median of 10 and one-fifth of the apps. Data is sent to more than 20 third parties.
“Researchers at Oxford University analysed approximately a third of the apps available in Google’s Play Store in 2017 and found that the median app could transfer data to 10 third parties, with one in five apps able to share data with more than 20. This year has seen unprecedented scrutiny over how websites use the data they collect from their users, but little attention has so far been paid to the sprawling and fast-growing world of smartphone apps. Reuben Binns, the computer scientist who led the project, said that because most apps have now moved to a “freemium” model, where they make revenues from advertising rather than sales, data sharing has spiralled out of control.
Users, regulators and sometimes even the app developers and advertisers are unaware of the extent to which data flow from smartphones to digital advertising groups, data brokers and intermediaries that buy, sell and blend information, he said. “This industry was growing already on the webâ…âwhen smartphones came along, that was a new opportunity,” he said. “It feels like this legitimate business model has gone completely out of control and created a kind of chaotic industry that is not understood by the people who are most affected by it.”