Some apps from the App Store can you spy on users, recording their movements every two seconds, in order to subsequently sell these data to several dozens of companies. This conclusion was made by journalists the New York Times, conducted an independent investigation. The tracking was so precise that it was possible to identify individuals based solely on information about their visits.
Despite the specificity of information on the movements of the users, they are of interest for at least 75 companies, which, according to their official representatives, collecting data on more than 200 million smartphones. These data are analysed and subsequently passed to the advertisers concerned with placement-targeted advertising on the Internet, as well as business owners who wish to track the efficiency of their work.
For example, the location data of users allow you to track store traffic throughout the day or a specific period of time. In addition, they can find out how long customers spend in the store, some goods often pay attention and even where they live. All this allows the owners of shops and other institutions to effectively promote their products and services, focusing only on potential visitors.
As a rule, the collection of information do of the application, the operation of which requires access to location services. Among the applications spy New York Times carried WeatherBug, theScore, The Weather Channel and about a dozen unnamed fitness apps and tracking the weather.
How dangerous is it
Personal identification based on location is possible even with such a massive project, and regardless of how carefully depersonalized data.
Every day someone leaves his home in upstate new York at 7 a.m. and goes to high school, located 14 miles to the southwest, where it remains until late in the evening. Only one person is doing this way every day — Lisa Magrin, 46-year-old math teacher. App on her smartphone to collect information about her movements for several months, and then sold on the side.
The app recorded its trip to the nutritionist and dermatologist, precisely timing its location in each medical office. Then, from the data received by the smartphone, she went for a walk with his dog, then looked to the former cohabitant. All these data, according to Magrin, grossly violate her right to privacy, but — surprisingly — evaluated by the advertisers just 2 cents.