Dozens of smartphone apps collect so much location data that their publishers can plot users’ comings and goings in detail, a forthcoming peer-reviewed study found.
Computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University concluded that a dozen or so popular Android apps collected device location – GPS coordinates accurate to within 50 meters – an average 6,200 times, or roughly every three minutes, per participant over a two-week study period.
The research comes at a time of increasing concern about electronic privacy. A 2014 Pew survey found that more than 90 percent of Americans feel they’ve lost control over personal data. While savvy users understand that using mobile devices entails some privacy tradeoffs – for example, a navigation app will reveal their location to the app’s publisher – most don’t realize the extent to which such information is collected and distributed, the researchers said.