What the Tech? Do apps spy on you - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

What the Tech? Do apps spy on you

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Can that app you just downloaded spy on you? It may require you to use your microphone and camera, such as Facebook Messenger or Brightest Flashlight but it doesn’t necessarily mean the apps are up to no good.

Apps require all sorts of information to be installed on a phone. Most are up front about accessing your contacts, web history, camera and microphone and state there in the Terms of Service that it will gather, store and share information it finds on the phone.

But spy on you with the camera and microphone?

Most every techie nerd will agree that it ‘probably’ doesn’t happen.

By accessing the camera and microphone and by gathering information on the phone it is possible some app developers could grab images from the phone’s hard drive. That’s not how apps work though. They need downloads so that the developers can share and sell as much user data to advertisers.

By collecting personal information data, including the phone’s unique identifier, the app can offer it to advertisers in search of their target customer. While the information these apps gather is personal, it does not mean the app is selling your individual identification to third-party companies.

Let’s say you’re a woman in her 40s. That data along with your web habits and location can help advertisers target you with their ads which, they believe, you will be most interested in.

Rather than identifying you by name, these apps toss your web habit data into a file of other 40-something age women. An advertiser will pay the app developer for the identification number of those phones so when they send an ad to them, they’ll know the demographic of the audience/user.

Google works the same way by tracking websites you visit. If you visit websites about photography you’ll begin to see advertisements for photography equipment.

Google says on its site this is done to benefit advertisers and users. Is someone watching you on your camera at the office of one of these apps?

It’s highly unlikely. Possible, but unlikely.

If this kind of thing concerns you, think twice before downloading another free app.

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