“Roughly 17,000 Android apps collect identifying information that creates a permanent record of the activity on [the] device, according to research from the International Computer Science Institute that was shared with CNET,” Laura Hautala reports for CNET. “The data collection appears to violate the search giant’s policy on collecting data that can be used to target users for advertising in most cases, the researchers said.”

“The apps can track [Android users] by linking [their] Advertising ID — a unique but resettable number used to tailor advertising — with other identifiers on [their] phone that are difficult or impossible to change,” Hautala reports. “Those IDs are the device’s unique signatures: the MAC address, IMEI and Android ID. Less than a third of the apps that collect identifiers take only the Advertising ID, as recommended by Google’s best practices for developers.”

“‘Privacy disappears’ when apps collect those persistent identifiers, said Serge Egelman, who led the research,” Hautala reports. “Egelman’s team, which previously found around 6,000 children’s apps improperly collecting data, said Thursday that big-name apps for adults are sending permanent identifiers to advertising services. The apps included included Angry Birds Classic, the popular smartphone game, as well as Audiobooks by Audible and Flipboard. Clean Master, Battery Doctor and Cheetah Keyboard, all utilities developed by Cheetah Mobile, were also found to send permanent info to advertising networks. All of these apps have been installed on at least 100 million devices. Clean Master, a phone utility that includes antivirus and phone optimization services, has been installed on 1 billion devices.”

“Google said it had investigated Egelman’s report and taken action on some apps. It declined to say how many apps it acted on or what action was taken,” Hautala reports. “Google also said it can enforce its policies only when Android apps send the identifiers to Google’s own ad networks, such as AdMob. If the apps send the data to outside networks, Google says it can’t monitor them for violations.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The naiveté of those who settle for Android-based iPhone wannabes knows no bounds.

Something to consider: If Google cannot track users, their business model is not viable.

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[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “TJ” for the heads up.]