Some academics at Northeastern University recently set out to look into one such long-held assumption, the zombie conspiracy which no one ever seems to be able to kill over whether our phones are secretly listening to us to know which ads to present to us. It's a scary notion, but quite possibly an unfounded one. Don't heave a sigh of relief yet, though, for they might be doing something equally sinister.
Many smartphone users are paranoid that their phone is secretly listening to their conversations in order to serve up targeted ads.
The survey reviewed 17,260 Android apps to see what kind of media files were sent from those apps.
"We find that several apps leak content recorded from the camera and the screen over the internet, and in ways that are either undisclosed or unexpected given the objective of the app", the researchers concluded. The researchers used an automated program to interact with the apps and analysed the traffic generated.
The research group found no evidence that that the applications were capturing or sending audio when not prompted by the user. It was done check whether these apps record any audio from the phone's mic without the user's knowledge. While such a scenario did not come to pass during the time of research using automated mechanisms, a different scenario is possible with human users.
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MoviePass also shared that it will integrate Peak Pass, a once-a-month freebie for members to waive the peak fee. The service also said, "Note: the actual Peak Pricing surcharge will vary based on showtime and movie title".
"Our study reveals several alarming privacy risks in the Android app ecosystem, including apps that over-provision their media permissions and apps that share image and video data with other parties in unexpected ways, without user knowledge or consent", the researchers said.
As Gizmodo reported, GoPuff (a food delivery startup) recorded video of in-app interactions and forwarded it to a domain affiliated with Appsee, a mobile analytics company. "We have responsibly disclosed confirmed privacy leaks to developers and the Android privacy team, and they took action to remediate the privacy concerns we discovered".
In response, Appsee stated that GoPuff was at fault and they have "disabled tracking capabilities for the mentioned app and purged all recordings data from our servers".
"In this case it appears that Appsee's technology was misused by the customer and that our Terms of Service were violated", Appsee CEO Zahi Boussiba told Gizmodo, blaming GoPuff for the error.
Indeed, AppSee advertises itself as a way to keep tabs on an app's users.