January 14, 2020

Mobile Adtech "out of control"

A report released today shows that Adtech in mobile apps is sharing user data far and wide, through adtech systems that include sensitive information such as sexuality, drug use, political views.


The applications investigated include dating apps Grindr and OkCupid.

The report from the Norwegian Consumer Council calls for action to ensure that sensitive personal data is kept securely, and not shared widely without user consent.

As many of these applications are UK based, the Open Rights Group has written to the UK’s Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham to ask her to investigate. The Adtech industry is already the subject of complaints filed by the Open Rights Group and Michael Veale.

The report concludes that:

"The adtech industry is operating with out of control data sharing and processing, despite that should limit most, if not all, of the practices identified."

Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group said:

“This report shows that the most sensitive facts about people’s personal lives are being shared in irresponsible and unlawful ways through people’s mobile phones. Yet the regulators have the power to investigate and protect people’s privacy. 

"The UK’s Information Commissioner is absolutely key, as many mobile apps are businesses based in the UK. That is why we have called on her to investigate today."

Detailed findings from the report include that:

  • The dating app Grindr shared detailed user data with a large number of third parties that are involved in advertising and profiling. This data included IP address, Advertising ID, GPS location, age, and gender. Twitter’s adtech subsidiary MoPub was used as a mediator for much of this data sharing, and was observed passing personal data to a number of other advertising third parties including the major adtech companies AppNexus and OpenX. Many of these third parties reserve the right to share the data they collect with a very large number of partners.

  • The makeup app Perfect365 shared user data with more than 70 third parties. This data included the Advertising ID, IP address, and GPS location. Many of the third parties that were receiving this data are in the business of collecting, using and selling location data for various commercial purposes.

  • The period tracker app MyDays shared the user’s GPS location with numerous third parties involved in behavioural advertising and profiling.

  • The dating app OkCupid shared highly personal data about sexuality, drug use, political views, and more with the analytics company Braze.

  • Google’s advertising service DoubleClick was receiving data from eight of the apps, while Facebook was receiving data from nine apps.

More Information

https://www.forbrukerradet.no/out-of-control/

https://fixad.tech 

Contact

Jim Killock 07894498127

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About Open Rights Group

Open Rights Group is the UK's leading voice defending freedom of expression, privacy, innovation, creativity and consumer rights on the Internet.

We challenge mass government surveillance, protect free expression online and the right to privacy online. We campaign, lobby, talk to the media, go to court — whatever it takes to build and support a movement for freedom in the digital age.

Founded in 2005, we have over 3000 paying supporters and a movement of 45,000 activists.

https://www.openrightsgroup.org/about/

Open Rights Group is a non-profit company limited by Guarantee (05581537) based in London and Edinburgh.

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