The mobile Angry Birds app was among those named by researchers By Lewis Smith A list of the worst mobile phone apps for extracting personal information such as location and contacts has been compiled by academics. Among the worst for taking details from users who have little or no idea it is happening include Angry [...]

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The 10 worst apps for taking personal details without letting you know

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The mobile Angry Birds app was among those named by researchers

By Lewis Smith

A list of the worst mobile phone apps for extracting personal information such as location and contacts has been compiled by academics.
Among the worst for taking details from users who have little or no idea it is happening include Angry Birds and Brightest Flashlight.
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh in the US, looked at the most popular programs in Google’s Android app store to compile their list.
Some of the apps, such as Google Maps, were at least half expected by mobile users to be taking location details but others were more of a surprise.
When told that the Angry Birds mobile app took location details, 80 per cent of users questioned were surprised.
Dr Jason Hong, of the university’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute, wrote on a blog: “A vast majority of people (95%) were surprised that Brightest Flashlight used location data, but no one (0%) was surprised that Google Maps did so.
‘Here, we can use level of surprise as one form of privacy. If people aren’t surprised, then from our perspective it’s less of a privacy issue, since people have some level of informed consent.
‘On the other hand, if lots of people are surprised, then we have a potential privacy issue at hand.’
The list, which was not ranked in any order, was released after Dr Hong and colleague including Professor Norman Sadeh analysed the 100 most popular Android apps.
The other eight apps were Toss It game, Talking Tom virtual pet, Backgrounds HD Wallpapers, Dictionary.com, Mouse Trap game, Horoscope, Shazam music, and Pandora Internet Radio.
One or more of three types of information – location, device identifying details, and contact lists – were collected, the researchers found.
Users were often in the dark as to why the information was collected by the app, such as 58 per cent being unaware device IDs could be used for marketing.
‘In the short-term, the main thrust of our research is to help people understand these kinds of unusual behaviors of apps, as well as increase transparency.
‘It’s worth pointing out too that a lot of this information seems to be used for advertising rather than malicious purposes (though it obviously depends on your definition of malicious).
Daily Mail, London




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