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Free apps steal your personal data

Free apps steal your personal data
photo courtesy of SHUTTERSTOCK

If I glanced through your smartphone or tablet, I bet most of the apps you installed are free. We all love free apps. In fact, here are my lists for the 10 Best Free Apps for Android and 10 Best Free Apps for Apple.

Often, free apps have a privacy cost. When you install an app, you probably never read the app's terms and conditions. You merely click "Agree." In the terms and conditions, the app developer typically reveals what data you are voluntarily handing over to them such as your online activities, location, contact list, text messages, and more. (By the way, none of the apps on my 10 Best lists above do.)

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University recently analyzed the Google Play store's top 100 apps' operations, terms and conditions. They found the following 10 requested the most access to your smartphone or tablet's hardware:

  • Backgrounds HD Wallpaper
  • Brightest Flashlight
  • Dictionary.com
  • Google Maps
  • Horoscope
  • Mouse Trap
  • Pandora
  • Shazam
  • Talking Tom Virtual Pet

It makes sense that Google Maps needs your location and song-identifying Shazam needs access to your microphone, but why does a virtual pet, dictionary or wallpaper app need anything like that? Well, it actually might have a good reason, as I'll talk about a bit later.

Next page: Let's get some answers

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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