Study shows only limited control over privacy-violation by pre-installed Android apps

MADRID/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – An independent research guided by a scientific group in Spain has shown that some personal information can be collected by pre-installed programs on the new Android mobile devices is large and shows little supervision.

A 3D printed Android logo is shown in front of a cyber-code in this image is 22 March 2016. REUTERS/dado Ruvic/Illustration

The investigation by the public Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, IMDEA Networks Institute and Stony Brook University looked at apps pre-installed on Android devices from 2,748 users, spread over 1,742 unique devices of 214 suppliers in 130 countries.

The study did not look at the question of whether the EU General data protection Regulation legislation, would lead to more oversight to the pre-installed apps on Android devices.

Although Alphabet Inc Google the owner of Android, the open source nature of the device makers to modify the operating system and the package of other apps with the operating system for providing users.

The study found the setup that is a potential threat for the privacy of users and security because the pre-installed apps request access to information that other similar apps distributed through the Google Play app store can’t reach.

Pre-installed apps often may not be removed, and Google may not occur if strict safety checks of them as for the app store versions, the researchers found.

“There is a lack of regulation and transparency and no one seems to notice that these stakeholders, and apps,” said co-author of the study Juan Tapiador.

Google said it offers tools to manufacturers of equipment that helps them ensure that their software does not conflict with Google’s privacy and security standards.

“We also provide our partners with a clear policy with regard to the safety of the pre-installed apps, and regularly give them information about potentially dangerous pre-loads that we have identified,” a Google spokesperson said.

The pre-installed apps recently have drawn increased scrutiny. A U.S. Department of Justice criminal investigation of Facebook, who worked with hardware makers to ensure that the app would be on the users ‘ devices, is researching those companies, the New York Times reported last week.

The authors of the study noted that their paper is not focused on software developers in particular, but was rather a study in the absence of regulation and transparency that surrounded pre-installed apps found on the new devices.

Facebook, which said it was cooperating with multiple government investigation into the treatment of the users of personal data, said partnering with mobile operators and manufacturers of devices on pre-installations immediately give users the best experience on its social network.

Edited by David Evans

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