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Android App Tells You When You’re Being Tracked

by Brandon Russell | January 31, 2014January 31, 2014 8:00 pm PDT

Android Figure -Andrew Bell, Huck Gee, Scott Tolleson, Google

Unless you never connect to Wi-Fi or mobile data, don’t turn on Bluetooth and don’t make any phone calls, chances are high you’re being tracked in some way. Even the most inconspicuous apps are reportedly sharing data, which has many feeling like their privacy is wrongfully being invaded. A new Android app, created by a group at Rutgers University, aims to make the practice of tracking completely transparent. If an app is leaking data—say, Angry Birds, for example—this new app will let you know when your information is being accessed.

The app is designed to take advantage of technology already built-in to Android, and shows users banner notifications when an app accesses location data. According to professor Janne Lindqvist, the purpose of the app is to highlight the dirty practice of location tracking, and to encourage other developers to be more transparent about information gathering. Many apps today give you a choice to turn location tracking off, but Lindqvist feels that isn’t enough.

Unfortunately, the only way to run the group’s app is by rooting an Android device, which many consumers aren’t privy to doing. Google previously gave Android users the option to disable specific app permissions, but that feature was recently removed in an update; likewise, Android doesn’t allow apps to keep watch over other apps, which is why rooting is necessary.

There’s been a lot of controversy over the NSA’s tracking practices, and new information is coming out all the time. Lindqvist’s app is not necessarily meant to stifle the tracking, but alerts users when their location is being recorded—even in apps you’d least expect to do so. According to Daily Caller, the app could eventually be made available through Google Play.

DailyCaller

Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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