Published: Wed, October 24, 2018
Electronics | By Kelly Massey

A Google News bug is eating up gigabytes of data

A Google News bug is eating up gigabytes of data

Almost 90% of free apps on the Google Play store share data with Google parent company Alphabet, the Financial Times reported.

With data as expensive as it is, those on limited data packages may want to delete the heck out of the Google News app until a solution is found. Next came a firm that's no stranger to data sharing controversies, Facebook (42.5 percent), followed by Twitter (33.8 percent), Verizon (26.27 percent), Microsoft (22.75 percent), and Amazon (17.91 percent).

The researchers said this sort of data "enables construction of detailed profiles about individuals, which could include inferences about shopping habits, socio-economic class or likely political opinions".

That's the message from researchers at the University of Oxford, who say that 90% of free apps share data with Google's parent company Alphabet. And considering the online advertising industry has revenues of more than £45 billion in the USA alone, there's some serious incentive to track what you're doing. I've just deleted the app from my phone though, because there's a great big bug that's eating up dozens of gigabytes of data.

News apps and those aimed at children were found to be particularly tracker-heavy.

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"We are impressed with the complex methods that were used to build this fraud scheme and what's equally as impressive is the ability of criminals to remain under the radar", said CEO of Protected Media, a cybersecurity and fraud detection firm that analyzed the apps and websites involved in the scam.

The problem, according to project lead Reuben Binns, is due to most apps being free and relying on advertising to make money.

The tech giant also suggests that the study is misleading.

Google added that it disagreed with the methodology of the study. "It mischaracterises ordinary functional services like crash reporting and analytics, and how apps share data to deliver those services".

But campaigner Frederike Kaltheuner from Privacy International said that it has become "impossible" for the average user to understand how their data is being used, and to opt out. "This is about profit maximization", he said, "at the expense of peoples' fundamental rights".

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