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Stop Before You Shop – Are Your Shopping Apps Sharing Access to Your Device?

incogni blog: “In a recent consumer survey, 88% of respondents reported having at least one shopping app installed on their mobile device. Given their popularity, you might think these apps are pretty harmless.  In our previous research, we already looked into the Google Play Store data safety section and how to determine the amount of data apps really “share”. This time around, our researchers found something else consumers should be looking out for: ad libraries. With the biggest shopping season around the corner, our researchers analyzed 640 of the most popular shopping apps from the Google Play Store to uncover how they can potentially affect your online privacy and security. They found that two-thirds of shopping apps share permissions with an average of 1.8 ad libraries. This means that with each of these apps you grant permissions to, you’re giving the same permissions to not one, but around three companies.

Key findings:

  • Two-thirds (65.2%) of analyzed shopping apps use ad libraries.
  • The shopping apps that use ad libraries use an average of 1.8, meaning you’d be granting permissions to three companies on average, instead of one.
  • 4 out of 5 (83%) analyzed shopping apps request permissions. Some of the most alarming ones are:
    • 22.3% request permission to record audio 
    • 48.3% request permission to access precise (GPS) location
    • 15.8% request permission to read your contacts
    • 6.1% request permission to read calendar events plus confidential information AND add or modify calendar events and send emails to guests without owners’ knowledge
    • 1.6% request permission to read your text messages (SMS or MMS)
    • 8.0% request permission to directly call phone numbers..”

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