These Popular Android Apps Are Sharing Your Data With Facebook Without Permission

Facebook Facebook privacy Facebook data sharing Android apps sharing data Facebook Facebook data breach Privacy International

The apps reportedly include Facebook Software Development Kit, designed to automatically transmit event data to Facebook

A new report put out by campaign group Privacy International found that 20 out of 34 popular Android apps send data to Facebook without asking for permission.

Why it matters: Facebook is still tracking what apps a user opens even if they don't have a Facebook account. For instance, Kayak sends Facebook information about people's flight searches, including their departure city, date, and airport as well as where they plan on going, how long they'd like to stay, and how many people they're travelling with.

For example, a person who has installed the following applications that we have tried, Qibla Connect (a Muslim prayer application), Period Tracker Clue (a period tracker), Indeed (a job search application), My Talking Tom (an application for children), could be outlined as probable woman, probably Muslim, probable job applicant, probable mother.

A few of the companies highlighted in the study provided a statement to Financial Times, and at least one said it wasn't aware that this type of data was being shared with Facebook.

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Some apps go even further, sending data to Facebook that Privacy International describes as "incredibly detailed and sometimes sensitive".

Other data that is sent to Facebook includes the user's unique ID with Google, which helps advertisers build a "comprehensive profile" around a user, such as their gender, religion, interests, activities and other detailed information.

Facebook's SDK is a platform that the firm offers to developers and lets users login to other services with their Facebook account.

These apps, which include the likes of TripAdvisor, Kayak, MyFitnessPal, and Skyscanner, are violating the EU's GDPR privacy rules by both collecting info without consent and potentially identifying users.

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This is in violation with privacy guidelines in several places, including Europe where the European Union data protection, GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) came into effect on May 25, 2018. It's possible that the app could still be using an older version of Facebook's developer kit.

On June 28, Facebook claimed that they updated their Android SDK to add a delay to this event logging which would only send data once users had consented. What's more, some apps were giving Facebook even more detailed information, and not just when the app was first opened.

Frederike Kaltheuner, a Data Exploitation Programme Lead at Privacy International, says researchers do not know how this data is used for people who do not have a Facebook account: "It's not 100 percent clear when we look at Facebook's privacy policies", Kaltheuner told the Daily Dot. Privacy International also notes Facebook launched it a month after the regulations came into force.

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