Apps Aren't Listening to You, But They Are Recording Your Screen

Young man hides smartphone under sheets

The bad news? In disproving one conspiracy theory, the researchers uncovered an equally invasive method of spying. So researchers at Northeastern University chose to look into it, testing 17,000 Android apps and monitoring what kind of information they sent home. Howevever, the study explicitly noted its limitations and doesn't definitively state that phones never record its users.

You need to be very cautious while granting permission to any app. Over 9,000 apps had permission to access the phone's microphone and camera, meaning they *technically* did have the right to listen in when the app was in use.

For the a year ago, researchers at Northeastern University and the University of California, Santa Barbara, have been experimenting on 17,000 of the most popular Android apps to figure out whether any of them are secretly using your phone's microphone to record you.

Thankfully, the researchers found phones don't record your conversations and send them to advertisers. It's a scary notion, but quite possibly an unfounded one. This included any app sending information to social media behemoth Facebook.

From the researchers: "Our study reveals several alarming privacy risks in the Android app ecosystem, including apps that over-provision their media permissions and apps that share image and video data with other parties in unexpected ways, without user knowledge or consent".

Massive 'Trump Baby' Blimp to Fly Over London During President's Visit
But thousands of people signed a petition and a crowdfunding campaign raised the equivalent of more than $21,000 for the stunt. The presence of the balloon may acerbate tensions between Khan and Trump, who have been embroiled in several Twitter spats.

The researchers used ten Android devices which ran an automated program to interact with the apps. Instead, some apps were making screen recordings and sharing those with third parties. Gizmodo drills down and pulls out examples like that of junk food delivery app GoPuff, which the site describes as monitoring user interactions with the app and sending them to a mobile analytics company called Appsee.

"We always appreciate the research community's hard work to help improve online privacy and security practices", a Google spokesperson told Gizmodo's Kashmir Hill. After the researchers contacted GoPuff, the company added disclosure of this policy to its privacy policy, and claimed that it removed the API from its latest builds.

In response, Appsee stated that GoPuff was at fault and they have "disabled tracking capabilities for the mentioned app and purged all recordings data from our servers". The incident demonstrates how easy it can be for companies to gather personal data, without the users knowing about it.

NU researchers Elleen Pan, Jingjing Ren, Martina Lindorfer, Christo Wilson and David Choffnes are planning to present their findings at the Privacy Enhancing Technology Symposium (PETS) in Barcelona in July.

Related news:

Hot News

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Georgia's Jake Fromm sustains broken hand in boating incident
Jul 06, 2018 - 08:51
Dawgs247 reports Fromm won't miss any time due to the injury and he is expected to be with his team for the rest of summer. Fromm played in each of Georgia's 15 games last season, starting all except the season opener against Appalachian State.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top James Woods says his agent dropped him on Independence Day
Jul 06, 2018 - 08:28
Woods has previously said that being a conservative in Hollywood has made it hard for him in recent years to find roles. In September, actress Amber Tamblyn wrote an open letter to Woods accusing him of hitting on her when she was 16.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Dozens dead, 3 missing in Indonesia ferry accident
Jul 06, 2018 - 07:53
This is the moment 29 people lost their lives when a ferry ran aground and sank off the coast of Indonesia. Passengers were trapped for a night before they were rescued early Wednesday, officials said.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Pompeo Brings 'Rocket Man' CD for Kim Jong
Jul 06, 2018 - 07:42
Trump, however, has continued to boast of the results of the summit, even in the face of skepticism from some USA lawmakers. Pompeo also made a secret trip there in April while still director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Three reasons Xherdan Shaqiri and Liverpool are a flawless match
Jul 06, 2018 - 05:32
I hope so, you never know with football. "Of course, I would like to play on the biggest stage in football". Shaqiri is tied into a deal at the bet365 Stadium until the summer of 2020.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Australian Grand Prix confirms mid-March date for 2019 season
Jul 06, 2018 - 03:58
The amount of pressure, the amount of simulations that go on, the information... there are a lot of tough calls for each team to make.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Trump Accepts Scott Pruitt Resignation After EPA Chief Reaches Peak Swampiness
Jul 06, 2018 - 03:28
White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert resigned in April, a month after Rex Tillerson was sacked as secretary of state. But despite boasts of slashing red tape and promoting job creation, Pruitt had a mixed record of producing real-world results.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Canada pushing for intensive NAFTA talks
Jul 06, 2018 - 02:37
Canada has retaliated with $16.6 billion in counter-tariffs and the USA midterm elections are in the fall. A former Canadian ambassador to the U.S., who was directly involved in negotiations for the Canada-U.S.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Alleged sexual abuse victim sends emails to Ohio Rep
Jul 06, 2018 - 02:27
Fury said Jordan has not been contacted by the university's investigators but that he would help with the investigation if needed. Jordan's office did not immediately reply to a request for comment from The Hill on Thursday. "I never knew of any abuse from Dr.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Joey Chestnut Wins 11th Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Contest
Jul 06, 2018 - 02:16
While her grand total was four fewer than her tally a year ago , it was nine more than the closest challenger, Michelle Lesco. Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog-Eating Contest will air live on Wednesday, July 4, at noon ET on ESPN2.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top World No.132 Vitalia Diatchenko stuns Maria Sharapova in Wimbledon 1st round
Jul 06, 2018 - 01:43
Halep who reached the semi-finals in 2014, was beaten by Johanna Konta in last year's quarter-final. "Tennis is a process". Probably I deserved it today", Sasnovich said after closing out the win with consecutive aces.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Senate Intelligence Panel: Putin Was Helping Trump
Jul 06, 2018 - 01:37
Just last week, Trump had tweeted , "Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with meddling in our election". The report is the latest example of how the Senate Intelligence Committee has diverged from its House counterpart.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Love Island SPOILER: Wes tells Alex he KISSED Megan on romantic date
Jul 06, 2018 - 01:26
In here you have to be quite selfish in terms of who you like'. 'There's something going on and I need to find out what it is. The couples up for elimination were revealed to be Megan Barton Hanson and Alex, Ellie and Sam Bird, and Adam and Darylle.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Kamala Harris: 'Eight immigrants' signed Declaration of Independence
Jul 06, 2018 - 00:58
Researchers at Harvard say only 26 of the estimated 200 original copies of the Declaration of Independence exist today. Coincidentally, Jefferson and Adams died on the same day in 1826, the 50th anniversary of Independence Day .

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Indiana Church 'Detains' Jesus, Mary and Joseph in Cage
Jul 06, 2018 - 00:23
As to the rest, says Carlsen, "If it offends people, I think it might be God trying to get their attention". What's controversial is that we're turning away from the values that should be guiding us.