One out of two Android apps shares your data with third parties

One in two apps (55.2%) share user data with third parties, and free apps share an average of seven times more data points than paid apps.

This was revealed by a new study from data suppression company Incogni, which studied the privacy and security practices of the top 1,000 apps available on the Google Play Store. The study’s common belief that free apps aren’t free people pay with their data.

The worst category in terms of data sharing is “shopping”, where apps share an average of 5.72 data points. Additionally, social media apps collect the most data (19.18 data points collected), but they report sharing only three data points on average.

“Whether social media apps are completely transparent remains to be determined,” Incogni says.

Additionally, 4.9% of apps admit to not encrypting data in transit, making users’ personal information vulnerable to security breaches. Less than half say their data is encrypted in transit, and just 0.8% have undergone an independent security review.

One in ten apps on Google Play state adamantly that the personal data they collect cannot be deleted, and only 39% of apps actually provided a way for a user to request data deletion.

Incogni says what may be even more concerning is that many apps share users’ location history. Some 13.4% of apps share an approximate location while 3.85% share an exact location. Even apps marketed as “security and safety tools” can sometimes share a user’s precise location, the company said.

Darius Belejevas, director of Incogni, says data sharing exposes users to a host of dangers such as identity theft, bullying and online harassment. “Many internet users may also find themselves victims of digital redlining, a phenomenon akin to profiling and discrimination in the real world.”

The study is based on Google Play’s Data Security section, which was first introduced in April 2022 as a way to help people understand what apps collect and share, as well as showcasing the leading application security practices.

This information helps users make more informed choices when deciding which apps to install.

App developers independently report how they collect and process data, which encompasses 37 different data points.

“We collected information on the top 1,000 apps (top 500 free apps and top 500 paid apps) according to AppFigures. We then analyzed the data in the ‘shared data’, ‘collected data’ and ‘security practices’ sections and ranked the apps from worst to best based on the number of data points they collect and share. explains Belejevas.