Apps Removed from Stores Might Still Compromise User Privacy

Privacy risks have become unfortunately common in the app ecosystem, and most platforms try to tackle this by delisting apps that pose a risk to consumer privacy with all things having been considered and taken into account. In spite of the fact that this is the case, apps that have been removed from the App Store or Play Store may continue to threaten privacy as well as compromise the overall integrity of the app ecosystem.

It is estimated that around 2,000 apps were delisted from the Roku and Amazon app stores in the first quarter of 2023, with the vast majority coming from Roku and just 28 coming from Amazon. This represents a 54% increase year over year, and Pixalate recently conducted an analysis in order to shed some light on the risks that might be posed by these apps in the long run.

With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that delisted apps might still be installed on user devices. That can allow them to continue obtaining data from these users, which just goes to show that delisting is not the one size fits all solution that so many platforms are hoping it will be.

They can also be a huge drain on financial resources because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up redirecting ad revenue towards apps that have a harmful impact on consumer privacy. An estimated $3.3 million in ad dollars were spent on delisted apps, which might end up making these ad budgets less effective than might have been the case otherwise.

Most of these apps were delisted for one reason: they were threatening user privacy. However, this study showed that delisting apps is not going to stop them from compromising a user’s inalienable right to safety as well as privacy. They can also have a wider effect on the ecosystem that would lead to less efficient distribution of ad dollars, and the long term impact of this has not yet been fully analzyed although efforts are currently underway.

Developers who want to avoid getting their apps delisted would need to better understand the rules and regulations that are at play here. Transparency is key, since it can enable developers to communicate with platforms that are trying to remove their apps. As long as there is no real foul play afoot, developers won’t have anything to worry about.

Around 25% of the apps that were delisted by Roku and Amazon were simple apps like screen savers and wallpapers. Apps that are in these niches are notorious for not having enough security protocols in place, and users that downloaded them might end up facing numerous privacy threats down the line.

All in all, consumers need to be better educated about the risks of downloading apps that end up getting delisted. If you notice that an app you recently installed is no longer available on the app store, this should lead to you removing the app before it can do any harm. Platforms only go so far as to delist apps if they notice that they are engaging in underhanded practices.

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