The study found that while many of the top apps on the Play Store display labels indicating that the app collects anonymous or aggregate data, in reality, many of those apps are actually collecting much more specific information about users’ browsing and location habits. For example, one top app claimed to collect only “basic device information” like network type and carrier, but it was found to be collector other much more specific data such as what websites were being visited and how long users spent on each page.
The apps use users’ data to target ads, share content with other platforms, and sell insights to third-party companies. Many of these companies have not been transparant about how they use users’ data, and do not always have policies in place to protect it. In some cases, such as with TikTok’s sharing of user data with Huawei and Twitter’s sale of user data to Cambridge Analytica , the companies have broken their own privacy promises.
Mozilla’s report alleges that developers, rather than companies themselves, are declaring nutrition labels on Google Data Safety Forms. The loophole in this system is that companies can manipulate the data to misrepresent the contents of the label. As a result, many people are not receiving accurate information about their diets.
Google was criticized for its labeling of data sharing in apps released in May. The company has exemptions in place for app makers, yet many claim the labels do not accurately reflect what data is shared and that developers are put on the back end to declare data sharing.
Mozilla used data collected from apps to compile a list of the best and worst performing apps in 2018. The top 20 free apps performed poorly while the top 20 paid apps fared better. Overall, Mozilla found that many of the best performing paid applications were those with more features and functionality than their free counterparts.
Apps that received a “poor” grade in the report included Twitter, Minecraft, and Facebook. However, 15 apps including TikTok, YouTube, Google Maps, and Gmail received the “needs improvement” stamp. Some apps including UC Browser and League of Stickman Acts failed to provide detailed data about their users’ online activity which raises concerns about their safeguarding mechanisms.
Jen Caltrider is concerned that Google’s Data Safety labels are ineffective and do more harm than good. She believes that consumers should have the power to make decisions about what information they share online, and that the labels provided by Google do not give them enough control over this.
The rampant falsification of data safety labels on popular apps like Twitter and TikTok is frustrating because it suggests that users don’t trust these services enough to know the truth. In reality, both Twitter and TikTok share user data with a wide variety of third-party companies – including those who operate advertising networks. These platforms need to be more transparent about their data sharing practices, so that consumers can make informed decisions about using them. Google should also do better in this area – the company has long been known for its transparency around its own user data practices, so it should aim to set an example for other major apps in the market.
Up until recently, it was assumed that the problem of false data sharing disclosure on app stores was confined to Google’s Play Store. However, multiple reports have now surfaced showing developers providing false information about data sharing on Apple’s App Store as well. As a result, Apple and Google are now being scrutinized for their policies which are increasingly being disputed.
The report prepared by the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is not unfounded. Google and Apple have been accused of monopoly on their app stores, which harms developers and consumers alike. These companies should be more transparent with the pricing they charge for their apps, especially given that many people can only afford to buy a handful of them at a time.
Though these tech giants have taken some steps to improve data privacy, more needs to be done in order for customers to have the correct information about how their data is being used. One way that Apple and Google could achieve this goal is by adopting a standardized data privacy system across platforms. Mozilla also recommended that the tech giants take action against apps that do not provide accurate information about data sharing.
Mozilla released a study that suggests Google Play app ratings are not indicative of the safety of the apps. Google pushed back against the study, saying its grades were random and not helpful to measure the safety of the apps.
Labels like “safe” and “unsafe” are not always accurate or helpful, as apps may have different privacy policies depending on the product or service they offer. Mozilla Foundation’s grading system is flawed because there is no information provided to back up the claims made about each app.
Many developers are unhappy with the new Safety labels that Facebook is providing, as they do not feel they provide enough transparency. Developers have complained that the labels are confusing and do not always reflect real-world realities. This could lead to more accidents and a deterioration inFacebook’s reputation among its users.