This week, the Boston Globe reported the findings of a study by a group of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. The research discovered that several Android apps track consumers' activities without notice and without consent. Researchers Frances Zhang and Fuming Shih investigated 36 apps that run on smart phones with the Android operating system:
"... some popular apps for phones running Google Inc.’s Android operating system are continually collecting information without informing the phone’s owner. The popular game Angry Birds uses the phone’s GPS and Wi-Fi wireless networking features to track the owner’s location, even when he’s not playing the game... Another game, Bowman, collects information from the phone’s Internet browser, including what websites the owner has been visiting..."
The researchers hope to patent their app-testing process so it can be used to test a wider range of mobile device apps. The researchers did not test Apple mobile devices.
While improved software will help consumers monitor apps for compliance with privacy policies, a survey earlier this year documented sporadic and inconsistent access to privacy policies for mobile device apps across all major brands.