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New Android App Warns When You Are Being Watched

With tens of thousands flocking to MetLife stadium tonight to watch the Super Bowl, most will have smartphones on hand.  According to a Pew Research report, nearly 20% of smartphone users surveyed have attempted to disconnect access to geolocation information by their apps, and 70% have wished to know more about geolocation data collected by their smartphone.  The FTC has likewise highlighted mobile tracking in its 2013 “Year of Mobile,” as we’ve dubbed the FTC’s multiple forays into the mobile device, payment, tracking and app markets, including its upcoming Feb 19th conference in D.C. on Mobile Device Tracking.

In response, researchers at Rutger’s University have announced they’re developing a new Android smartphone app that notifies users when an app is tracking their location by putting up a clear and conspicuous banner across the top of the app.

Often, geolocation information is used by various apps directly (i.e., navigation, map, or popular “location” apps, like AroundMe), but in other apps, geolocation data may used by advertisers to provide targeted ads but, as the majority of users never fully read or understand the Terms of Use or Privacy Policies provided in connection with websites or apps (see Terms of Service; Didn’t Read) information gleaned by apps may often be shared with third-parties (see “Mobile-Ad Firms Seek New Ways to Track You” and “Get Ready for Ads That Follow You from One Device to the Next”).

Information about the app and the Rutger’s study may be found at http://www.winlab.rutgers.edu/~janne/USECfieldstudy.pdf.

To discuss your mobile app development projects or whether your apps comply with privacy best practices and Privacy by Design, feel free to give us a call or email at info@SmartedgeLawGroup.com.

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The Author

R Santalesa

(p) 203.292.0667 (e) rsantalesa@smartedgelawgroup.com Richard Santalesa is based in Fairfield, Connecticut and New York City.
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