New research shows that some apps on your phones are collecting personal data and tracking your every move.
Your smartphone is constantly in action, even when you’re not using it. The apps on your phone can access your number, email address, even your precise location tracking information about you to build a profile but what happens when that data goes beyond the apps you signed up for to third party tracking companies.
Disconnect CEO, Patrick Jackson, says, “Your phone is sending this extra data to these people that you don’t know exists.”
Patrick Jackson is the Chief Technology Officer for the phone security company “disconnect.” he showed us all the data shared by the apps on *my (reporter Vicky Nguyen) phone. Turns out the Nordstrom rack app allows third party firms to learn a lot about *me:
Patrick: Is your email address Vicky *bleep *.Com?
P: You have att?
V: I do
P: And you have an iPhone 8?
… v: But I didn’t enter that information anywhere!
P: I know.
And there’s more-my gender, full name, products I viewed and get this: My real-time location all given to companies I’ve never heard of.
V: This is actually a location very close to where I live so this is probably at some point when I was in my car leaving my house going somewhere not realizing I’m being tracked.
P: Not only do they want to suck up your information in the digital world, they’re using that to track you in the physical world as well.
My Doordash app gave out motion data about my phone-letting the trackers know if I was on the move. And calm, a meditation app, sent my phone information to 5 different tracking companies.
Disconnect developed an app, privacy pro, to block many of these trackers.
Doordash told NBC News it shares customer data to prevent fraud and improve service, adding it doesn’t sell customer data and bans third parties from selling that data. Yet its privacy statement says “Doordash is not responsible for the privacy practices” of those third parties. Calm and Nordstrom did not respond to requests for comment.
Bennett Cyphers is a technology privacy expert with the nonprofit electronic frontier foundation the group lobbies for more regulations to protect your data.
V: Can consumers do anything to fight back against these trackers?
B: Yes, so you can be vigilant in making sure that you know the apps that you’re installing.
V: If they’re collecting your phone numbers, could that be used for robocalls. If they’re collecting your email, could that be used to be sending you spam?
B: Sure, yeah. It often is. Because once that information is out there in this ecosystem, it’s very lightly regulated and the companies that collect it can do almost anything with it
Cyphers says the only way to control what happens with your information, is to limit what you share
Vicky: Sometimes consumers think: It’s too late. I already put this information out there now. Why does it matter?
Bennett: It’s not too late because these companies that collect your information need more of it
And here’s some scary information: Just last week Doordash announced that 4.9 million users’ data including delivery addresses, even partial credit card information was compromised by a third party, this is exactly what our expert warned can happen.