Researchers from Oxford University, UK have analyzed about 959,000 apps from the US and UK Google Play Store and the research revealed that almost 90% of the apps that are present in the Play Store are sharing data with Google. The study also revealed that the data harvested are also shared with major social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter and also with tech giants like Amazon. The data harvested and collected is estimated to be shared with over 10 companies. 90% apps that are available on the play store keeps track of users personal data and collects the data and shares it with multiple companies.
The detailed study revealed that about 10% apps share data with around 20 companies at a time. The researchers also mentioned that Google’s parent company Alphabet has access to data from about 88% apps. This means that there are 88% apps whose stored data is easily available to Alphabet. And in this line falls Facebook with access to about 43% app data followed by Twitter with about 34% app data. Microsoft also has access to around 23% app data and Amazon has also access to around 18% app data. Amazon and Microsoft uses app data collected by apps from the user to provide user specific advertisements to the users. The apps store user’s data onto their servers and share them with third parties. The main source of income for these apps is data sharing and generating income with the help if advertisements. The app can collect user information such as name, age, gender, location and sometimes even their professional details. The apps also has access to user email id or contact number that had been used to register or sign up. After the research was published Google and Facebook said that these are some of their general functions. The researchers might have some misunderstanding. We have very clear policies related to data security. Strict action will be taken against those who will not abide by these policies. While the lead researcher Reuben Binns said that we are not saying that the all the apps that are collecting user data are misusing the data but the data is being stored and shared with third parties. This cannot be denied.
The social networking sites and e-commerce sites have a huge advantage and profit by obtaining user data. They use this data to send the users personalized advertisements and contents. The online advertising market has grown to about 4.5 lakh crores.