Many Android apps that have been discovered to be sending data to Facebook immediately they are opened, for the purpose of ad-tracking.
According to the report by Privacy International (PI), an UK-based international watchdog and charity group, the data transfer is done even when the Android user is currently logged out of Facebook…or do not own an account at all.
They first lodged a report back in December last year, when they observed that most of the widely used apps including Spotify, Skyscanner and Kayak were sending data to Facebook. In the new report, they noted that some of the apps have been updated to no longer contacting Facebook.
PI, however, noted that 7 Android apps including Duolingo, Yelp, King James Bible app, Qibla Connect, Muslim Pro and Indeed – a job-seeking app were all found to be sending personal data to Facebook to identify for ad-targeting purposes without the user’s consent and proper disclosure.
PI also noted that since their previous report, a company based in Germany and The Wall Street Journal article also confirmed that apps on the IOS platform were exhibiting similar behavior, despite Apple’s privacy rules and data protection.
The watchdog announced it had raised the issue of third-party tracking on apps with the European Data Protection Board and her Supervisor. They expressed hopes that their findings will steer the Board into legal action.
They have also notified all the apps known to exhibit the data sharing behavior, urging them to release an update. They noted that Duolingo is planning to take off the Facebook Software Development Kit (SDK) App Events components from both Android and IOS versions.
While legal action is not yet in place, Android user can reduce ad-tracking to a bit by reviewing the many permissions given to each app, resetting the Google advertising ID regularly, and the installation of a firewall app.