Your Android games could be secretly tracking you

Your Android games could be secretly tracking you

Most apps using the software are available on Google Play Store, while a smaller number of apps were also found on Apple's App Store. Even when the apps aren't in use, Alphonso's software can potentially use a smartphone's microphone to pick up on the TV shows and ads playing around the device, then use that information to target ads to the user, although the microphone is less likely to continue being used outside of the app on iOS devices due to Apple's built-in limitations on background apps. The information can then be used to target ads more precisely and to try to analyze things like which ads prompted a person to go to a vehicle dealership.

The company, however, believes that all of this is legitimate since apps using its software mention this in their privacy disclosures - something that no one actually bothers to read.

Ashish Chordia, Chief Operating Officer at Alphonso, told NYT: "The consumer is opting in knowingly and can opt out any time". The research has also revealed that the Federal Trade Commission had warned companies about the similar behavior in the past.

The disclosure, though, is hidden within the app's settings, which means that users are not asked to agree on the practice in advance. This data is also sold to third party companies, and isn't necessarily anonymized.

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Alphonso says it does not record human speech, and that it only works with permission from the end user - but that permission needs only to be granted once.

The FTC stepped in after several apps using SilverPush spied on users without their consent. While Alphonso can not track human speech and uses audio signals for marketing purposes, it does offer another reminder that you can not simply trust an app or a game just because it's being downloaded from official marketplaces like the Play Store.

NYT reports that the software is used in games, some of which are geared towards children. You can't transfer text messages, call logs, photos (although you can access them in the cloud with Google Photos), and more.

A new report has claimed there are hundreds of Android apps on the Google Play Store that covertly use your phone's microphone to listen to your preferences - especially the type of TV shows you watch, and when.

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