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Incogni Published A Research, Explaining Just How Much Free Android Apps Siphon User Data

Incogni has published a study asserting that “free” Android apps aren’t truly free, because users pay for them in their data.

I’m sure this is entirely common knowledge at this point; hey, if any horror movie buffs out there have seen Unfriended 2, there was an exact joke about Facebook being free because its user base is the product. Ridiculously specific references to mildly received movies aside, everyone’s rather aware of how applications are used to track specific user data. The discrepancy usually tends to come over just how much such apps track you; most people are aware of how their browser history is “borrowed” by applications looking to target ads their way. What most people are not aware of is that the same also occurs for location history, online purchasing trends, job titles, and so on. All such information that’s so personal to a user, and that can be incredibly dangerous in the wrong hands, is freely extracted and sold to third-party companies. Of course, when I say extracted, I should just say stolen.

Incogni’s research reveals that of the top 1,000 paid and unpaid apps that it looked into, over half shared personal data with third-party companies and advertisers. All of these applications also collect and share this information on very different levels. For example, all of Meta’s social media platforms collect a significant amount of personal user data but then share a very limited amount in return. The Incogni study categorized apps on the amount of information they collected and dispensed, dividing said info into eighteen separate points (i.e. email addresses, credit score, race & ethnicity). The Meta apps collected a total of thirty-six points, but only dispensed four of them. Chromecast, however, shares almost every bit of information that it collects from users.

Of course, then there’s the issue with who or what the data are being shared with. Naturally, some of the larger companies are probably doing their business with corporations and moguls in the advertising business; however, smaller platforms have been known to sell data to cybercriminals and the like, either out of sheer negligence or a need to make a profit. This, and data siphoning as a whole really, can prove detrimental to users who just want a free app that can tune their guitar or whatever. Take a look at below charts for more insights on the privacy practices of the top Android apps available on the Play Store.:
Read next: This New Demo App Can Notify You Whenever Google Gets Data From Your Device

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