Handling app permissions on mobile devices might be a difficult chore for users looking to further protect their privacy, as many applications collect a huge amount of user data for various purposes, without always specifically explaining why. Vocativ checked 25 of the most popular Android apps in the Google Play store, counting the number of permissions they require and looking at the kind of data they can collect once the users agrees to them, often without even reading them.
“It’s no secret that Facebook can track pretty much every detail about your personal life,” Vocativ writes. “But did you know that Happy Fish—a popular kids game based on the Android operating system—might be a worse privacy offender?”
“Happy Fish’s developer, HappyElements, programmed the game so that it can collect a trove of information about you (and your kids) through the app. The game knows your precise location, has access to your photos and can read your text messages. It can even tell which Wi-Fi network you’re using,” the company said.
Even so, for most apps that can access such information, the personal data collected is used for advertising rather than malicious activities. “These advertisers are trying to get more targeted information about you, so they can get more targeted ads,” PrivacyGrade.org founder and Carnegie Mellon professor of computer science Jason Hong told Vocativ.
“Most developers aren’t evil, but they often don’t know what to do with respect to privacy and security,” Hong added, explaining that some developers may simply collect data with their apps because they can, and nobody stops them.
Vocativ’s infographic follows below.