We need more tools like this! Author Glenn Fleishman aptly states:
When it comes to websites, we have ever more sophisticated techniques at our disposal to block the ads that sometimes track our wanderings around the internet. But most of us spend much of our time these days in mobile apps that offer no transparency on how we’re being tracked or sold–nor tools for blocking that behavior.
And how about this?
Apple has to rely on a developer’s disclosure as to what’s being done with that location data…. Many developers embed functionality in the form of third-party analytics packages and ad-technology code, which may associate seemingly innocuous user details with information collected from other sources. Thus, even if the data sent from an app seems benign in isolation, it might uniquely identify a user or be used for purposes that the developer is unaware of. Developers typically haven’t audited this code and couldn’t tell you in detail what it does.
The app makers are on the “honor system.” Of course, most are law abiding. The problem is that the nefarious few can and do cause a lot of harm to our systems and our people.
What’s the solution? Hopefully, “Two academic groups have built tools to police what apps do with your location and other personal data.”
Two complementary efforts, which are in the process of cooperating further, will turn more control over to those with mobile devices to monitor app connections, helping to expose bad actors and poorly designed private data security transfers, and allow scrubbing private information or blocking it altogether from being sent.
Read more here about the teams from Northwestern University and The Haystack Project.