Research Finds Android Phones Engage in ‘Important’ Data Collection and Sharing

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A study conducted at Trinity College Dublin found that a range of popular Android mobile devices engage in significant data collection and sharing.

Android mobile phones then share the data with Google, Microsoft, LinkedIn and Facebook as no opt-out option is available for users.

Professor Doug Leith of Trinity College Dublin and Drs Paul Patras and Haoyu Liu of the University of Edinburgh examined data sent by six variants of the Android operating system developed by Samsung, Xiaomi, Huawei, Realme, LineageOS and / e / OS.

Research has found that even when the mobile is idle, with the exception of e / OS, it transmits “substantial amounts” of information to the developer of the operating system and to third parties who have preinstalled system applications. .

Occasional communication with operating system services is expected in the majority of phones, but the study indicates that the transmission of information goes far beyond and raises privacy concerns.



Cropped shot of a group of colleagues using their smartphones in synchronicity

The phones examined, with the exception of e / OS, collect a list of applications installed on the device.

The Xiaomi handset sends data to Xiaomi revealing the applications viewed by the user. This can include when and for how long each app is used on a daily basis and can indicate when and for how long a phone call is made.

The Huawei handset Swiftkey keyboard sends information regarding the use of the app to Microsoft. This is displayed when a user writes text, uses the search bar, or searches for contacts.

Samsung, Xiaomi, Realme, and Google collect long-lived device IDs, such as hardware serial number, as well as user-resettable advertising IDs.

Apps like Google, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Facebook are typically preinstalled on devices at the time of purchase and silently collect data in the background without giving users the option to opt out.

Professor Leith told the Irish Times: “I think we have completely missed the massive and continuous collection of data by our phones, which is no denial. We have focused too much on web cookies and misbehaving apps.

“I hope our work serves as a wake-up call to the public, politicians and regulators. Significant action is urgently needed to give people real control over the data leaving their phones. “


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