The UK’s Channel 4 News has dropped a fresh load of privacy grief in Larry’s lap, with an expose into the way advertisers hitch-hike on apps’ permissions.
The Channel 4 piece has drawn a furious response from European Commission VP Viviane Reding, who has told the broadcaster: “this is against the law, because nobody has the right to get your personal data without you agreeing to this.”
Reding said people have “no idea” what’s happening to their data: “The are spotting you, they are following you, they are getting information about your friends, about your whereabouts, about your preferences. That is certainly not what you thought you bought into when you downloaded a free of charge app. That's exactly what we have to change."
What Channel 4 discovered, with the help of MWR Infosecurity, was that the permissions a user grants to a free application carrying ads are also granted to the advertiser. This meant ad networks can access to the user’s “contacts, calendar and location”, the researcher claims.
The unnamed researcher told Channel 4: "We found that a lot of the free applications in the top 50 apps list are using advertising inside the applications and that the permission that you grant to these applications is also granted to the advertiser. If users knew about this I think they would be concerned about it but at the moment I don't think they are aware of the situation and how widely their information can be used." ®