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Top Story

Mobile app behavior often appears at odds with privacy policies

How a mobile app says it will collect or share a user’s personal information with third parties often appears to be inconsistent with how the app actually behaves, a new automated analysis system developed by National Science Foundation-funded researchers at Carnegie Mellon University has revealed. An analysis of almost 18,000 popular free apps from the Google Play store found almost half lacked a privacy policy, even though 71 percent of those appear to be processing personally identifiable information and would thus be required to explain how under state laws such as the California Online Privacy Protection Act. Even those apps that had policies often had inconsistencies. For instance, as many as 41 percent of these apps could be collecting location information and 17 percent could be sharing that information with third parties without stating so in their privacy policy.

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