ANDROID phones can still track you even when you opt out, according to new research.
Researchers found that some popular Android phones were constantly sending device data to OS developers and other third parties with no way to stop it.
Tech experts at Trinity College in Dublin conducted a snooping study on Samsung, Xiaomi, Huawei and Realme handsets.
The researchers wrote in their study: “The privacy of mobile apps has been extensively studied, but much less attention has been paid to the privacy
of the mobile OS itself.
“A mobile OS may communicate with servers to check for updates, send telemetry and so on. We undertake an in-depth analysis of the data sent by six variants of the Android OS, namely those developed by Samsung, Xiaomi, Huawei, Realme, LineageOS and /e/OS.
“We find that even when minimally configured and the handset is idle these vendor customized Android variants transmit substantial amounts of
information to the OS developer and also to third-parties (Google,
Microsoft, LinkedIn, Facebook etc) that have pre-installed system
The concerning point raised in the study was that there was said to be no way to opt the phones out of this form of data collection.
The researchers added: “While occasional communication with OS servers is to be expected, the observed data transmission goes well beyond this and raises a number of privacy concerns.
“There is no opt out from this data collection.”
Most of the blame has been put on apps that are pre-installed by the hardware manufacturer.
These apps are said to collect your data and send it to third parties even if you never open or use them.
Even more data is shared from apps that you do use.
The researchers use the example of the Samsung Pass app that apparently shares data with Google Analytics.
This data is said to include when you were using the app and how long for.
There’s concern that all this data could be used to make a unique “fingerprint” that could track your device.
However, Google does have rules to limit invasive apps and tracking.
One example of this is that Google tells developers: “You must abide by a user’s ‘Opt out of Interest-based Advertising’ or ‘Opt out of Ads Personalization’ setting.
“If a user has enabled this setting, you may not use the advertising identifier for creating user profiles for advertising purposes or for targeting users with personalized advertising.”
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