University researchers have developed a smartphone app to show users how often their mobile software tracks their movements.It's really a promiscuous use of location tracking by all sorts of apps that have no business messing with it. Given the generally terrible security that you find in most apps, and the desire of the NSA/GCHQ/EIEIO to slurp all of that up, this is bad juju.
The team from Rutgers University said that the their Android tool uses a real-time monitoring system to show exactly when an application pulls locational information and transmits it. The results, they say, were eye-opening for many users.
"Our results conﬁrm that the Android platform’s location access disclosure method does not inform participants effectively," the team wrote. "Almost all participants pointed out that their location was accessed by several apps they would have not expected to access their location."
And yes, "bad juju" is a technical security term, similar to FUBAR.
To prove their point, the Rutgers team offered results of a campus experiment which placed users with the tracking notification software against Android users without the tool. Results of the test, they say, showed that the users with the alert tool were better informed about application tracking behaviors and were more likely to understand how individual apps were handling their data.They will release their app to the Google Play store in two months so you can spy on the spys. Quis custodiet, and all that. Because it's good to protect your metadata.
That the additional tools are needed to properly understand what applications are doing is an indictment of the way Android handles locational tracking, say the researchers.
Wonder how many apps will release an update in the next 2 months, turning off location tracking. Bet the number is greater than zero.