October 1, 2010

With Android Apps, Open Means Open -- And That's A Good Thing

Ars Technica has made waves with a report on how some apps for the open source Android operating system have been identified as covertly sending GPS data to advertisers. Based on research from Duke University, Penn State University and Intel Labs, it notes that "a significant number" of Android apps transmit location data without informing users in any way. Granted, this is non-ideal, but it's also a by-product of a mobile ecosystem that is vastly more open than the one that Apple oversees. And openness remains a good thing.

As Ars Technica reports:

"The researchers developed a piece of software called TaintDroid that uses dynamic taint analysis to detect and report when applications are sending potentially sensitive information to remote servers. They used TaintDroid to test 30 popular free Android applications selected at random from the Android market and found that half were sending private information to advertising servers, including the user's location and phone number. In some cases, they found that applications were relaying GPS coordinates to remote advertising network servers as frequently as every 30 seconds, even when not displaying advertisements."

Read more at Ostatic