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App 'Ad Libraries' a Privacy Concern

Ads can track users' locations through GPS

Tuesday, March 20, 2012
App 'Ad Libraries' a Privacy ConcernThere are a number of issues related to consumers' privacy when they use their smartphones and a recent study uncovered one that can be a particularly pressing concern.

A recent study at North Carolina State University found that thousands of applications in the Google Play app market for Android devices contain "ad libraries" that target consumers with specific advertisements, according to a report from TG Daily. Of those, 297 apps contain "aggressive" ads that download and run code from remote servers, which could create a malware threat.

Further, many of these ad libraries track users' locations via their phones' built-in GPS capabilities, and others even gave advertisers access to call logs, contacts and lists of other apps on the device, the report said. The Android shop is different from Apple's App Store in that it does not have a vetting process for consumers to upload their programs.

Eduard Goodman, chief privacy officer for Identity Theft 911, writes regularly on his blog about privacy issues consumers face when using mobile devices, and what they can do to minimize those concerns.

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