Most Android apps come bundled with third-party trackers pre-installed, according to a university study published today.
French research firm Exodus Privacy worked with the Yale University Privacy Lab to explore the different ways hundreds of apps are able gather personal data.
The organisations wanted to provide analysis into the different methods companies and developers are using to target consumers with advertisements and services.
They found that more that three in four Android apps have a third-party tool, such as a tracker, installed. And this is something many consumers aren't aware of.
Some of the most popular apps listed on Google's Play Store are using third-party tracking software to analyse personal data, including Spotify, Uber, OKCupid and Tinder.
According to the researchers, these apps all use a service developed by Google called Crashlytics. The software tracks crash reports.
However, it can also spy on the things users are doing and the type of social content that they may enjoy. With it, companies can gain a better insight into consumers.
The study found a plethora of other third-party tracking applications that aren't as known but have more capabilities than Google's offering.
Yale lists FidZup as one of the most powerful tracking tools. Developed in France, the researchers explained that it uses ultrasonic tones to detect the presence of users and their mobile devices.
Yale Privacy Lab said it'll use this research "for increased transparency into privacy and security practice as it relates to these trackers."
The researchers said: "Android users, and users of all app stores, deserve a trusted chain of software development, distribution, and installation that does not include unknown or masked third-party code.
"Scholars, privacy advocates and security researchers should be alarmed by the data, and can provide further analysis now that these findings and the Exodus platform have been made public."
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