A recent investigation found that cooking and recipe apps on Android share too much user data, and troubleshooting is up to Google.
The cooking and recipe apps are quite useful, but some of the most popular Android Apps in this category may be more interested in sharing a troubling amount of user data with advertisers than helping them bake a party cake, according to a recent survey. Tracking user behavior on apps and websites to serve them targeted ads is a huge business, with Google and Facebook among the biggest stakeholders.
While the privacy implications are huge, exchanging user data in black markets is a rather money-rich endeavor. Apple took a positive step in this fight with debuting its App Transparency framework earlier this year, allowing users to decide if they want an app to track them. The move has been praised, and while it’s not foolproof, users seem to be enjoying it. Android does not yet have such a system, and many apps, especially the cooking and recipes category, are taking full advantage of the situation.
According to an investigation from Mozilla, the cooking and recipe apps on Android track and broadcast user activity as if there was no tomorrow. At the app level, Recipes Home, Allrecipes, and Food Network Kitchen were the ones that shared the most user data. Of the eight cooking apps tested by Mozilla experts, six were spotted broadcasting details including device ID, location (up to latitude and longitude), and device details such as brand name, model number, and even version. of Android. Some apps were even detected as broadcasting behavioral data such as viewing habits, number of clicks, and scrolling time.
A buffet of free user data for everyone
As part of the survey, the experts selected eighteen of the most popular free cooking apps in the Food and Drink section of the Play Store, then narrowed the list down to the following eight: Allrecipes, Food Network Kitchen, BBC Good Food, Recipes Home , Whisk, KptnCook, Crockpot and Flipp Recipes. All the apps analyzed were loaded with third-party trackers, but some were a little too generous in extracting the amount of data on user activity. At the tracking level, Amazon Ads was the most enthusiastic considering it sent analytics requests every three seconds while using the Allrecipes Dinner Spinner app. The Recipes Home was among the worst offenders as the trackers embedded in its code collected everything from battery level to state of charge, whether headphones were plugged in and exactly how users interacted with the ads. .
The sheer diversity of data collected by these recipe and cooking apps is amazing. To put that into perspective, the information shared included country, carrier, model and brand of a device, OS version, email addresses, screen size and resolution, language, screen orientation, device ID, Google ad ID, location, time zone, battery level, display brightness and volume levels, just to name a few. In some cases, a tracker also wanted to know if the device is carrier blocked or jailbroken. Mozilla’s research concludes that “Third-party monitoring on mobile apps has gotten out of control” and the responsibility to impose anti-tracking barriers within the Android the ecosystem falls to the guardian, Google.
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