NSA-Sensitive App Alerts People When Their Phones Are Being Tracked

NSA-Sensitive App Alerts People When Their Phones Are Being Tracked

Researchers have developed a new app that notifies people whenever an Android app is tracking their location.

Leah Gonzalez
  • 3 february 2014

Researchers at Rutgers University have developed a new app that lets people know when an Android app is accessing their location.

The project team, led by Janne Lindqvist, an assistant professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the university, conducted a study of how often Android apps track users’ locations. Towards the end of the study, the group developed a novel app designed to detect if another app was accessing the location of the user. The app notifies the user by displaying a banner across the top of the app.

The goal of the research is for app developers to provide more prominent disclosures about information they collect, for them to collect less information, and for users to be able to choose what data an app can access.

Existing apps include a small icon informing users that their location is being accessed, but most users don’t realize this or even understand what it means.

As described on the research paper by Lindqvist team’s, 74% of smartphone users use location-based services. According to a Pew Research, one fifth of 2254 respondents disabled location access features on their phones. In another survey over 70% are interested to know about location data collection by apps.

This new app comes when news of the NSA gathering personal data from apps is still fresh on people’s minds and helps people realize how much of their information are being collected and shared via their gadgets.

According to the MIT Technology Review, the app is being readied for release on Google Play.

Source: MIT Technology Review

Image: Janne Lindqvist


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