Your smartphone's not listening to you, but it's recording your screen

Francisco Seco  AP

Francisco Seco AP

After a year of testing, folks from Northeastern University allege that smartphone manufacturers and apps installed on your phone are not listening into your conversations covertly, nor are they sending data to unknown remote servers without your knowledge.

Research from Northeastern University found that several Android apps share screenshots and videos of user app activity with third parties, without user consent.

Of those 9,000, 12 turned out to be sending screen shots of what the user did on the app along to either the app developers or a third party.

According to the report, the researchers have analysed and monitored the total traffic generated by different smartphone applications. The bad news is that a few of them may be recording your phone's screen.

It's a conspiracy theory that's been nurtured for a long time: someone mentions taking a holiday in the vicinity of their phone and the next thing you know, they're being shown ads about flights and hotel accommodation on Facebook. A spokesperson also informed Gizmodo that the AppSee SDK has been removed from GoPuff's Android and iOS apps with the latest update.

How The Research Was Carried Out?

And, unlike humans, the program is unable to sign into apps and could well have missed some audio files processed locally on the device that were sent out.

The research was carried out on a total of 17,260 Android apps.

While Facebook is pulling the plug on the three apps, the company still runs the most popular apps in the world, including its main social network with 2.2 billion users, along with Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp, each of which has more than 1 billion users.

Other sub-par practices noted by the researchers included photo-editing apps that processed images in the cloud without notifying users about it in privacy policies and apps that request permissions that they didn't use, opening the door to third-party code that could exploit the generous permissions. The writer of the piece revealed how Facebook pop-up ads attempted to sell him cheap return tickets to Tokyo, soon after he discussed the prospect of a holiday in Japan with an iPhone in his pocket. For example, when one of the phones used an app from GoPuff, a delivery start-up for people who have sudden cravings for junk food, the interaction with the app was recorded and sent to a domain affiliated with Appsee, a mobile analytics company.

So, What Can You Do To Stop It?

After you download a new app, do not grant permission like access to media files or your location or camera or microphone. It's a scary notion, but quite possibly an unfounded one.

"In this case it appears that Appsee's technology was misused by the customer and that our Terms of Service were violated", Appsee's CEO told Gizmodo.

Recommended News

  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic has posted a class tweet after Sweden 0-2 England

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic has posted a class tweet after Sweden 0-2 England

    In Russia, though, the draw has opened up for England , as it did with knockout ties against Belgium and Cameroon in 1990. "Yes, I did watch it on my phone at my best mate's wedding and shout "IT'S COMING HOME" during the vows ".
    Merkel warns Trump against trade war over car tariffs threat

    Merkel warns Trump against trade war over car tariffs threat

    Orban responded that Hungary's position hasn't changed since it closed its borders to migrants during the influx of 2015. Seehofer told Parliament that "they will be very hard talks" and "there will be no agreements in the first round".
    Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in action on Wimbledon Day two

    Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in action on Wimbledon Day two

    Kvitova was the bookmakers' favourite for the women's title at the All England Club after an impressive return to form this year. Despite entering the action without having played any warmup tournaments on grass, Nadal appeared right at home in London.
  • Women's top seed Simona Halep suffers shock defeat at Wimbledon

    Of the top 10 seeded players at Wimbledon , only one remains entering the round of 16 - and it isn't No. 1. The former US Open victor , who made the semi-finals in 2013, next faces unseeded Gilles Simon of France.
    Nurse Lucy Letby Arrested Over Murder Of Eight Babies Is Bailed

    Nurse Lucy Letby Arrested Over Murder Of Eight Babies Is Bailed

    Nurse Letby is reported to be in custody while officers search her home and the home of her parents. Cheshire Police said: "This is an extremely hard time for all the families".

    Croatia book England semi-final after ending Russian Federation dream

    It promises to be a fascinating encounter Sweden & England battle it out for a place in the semi-finals of the World Cup. The views expressed therein are not necessarily those of stlucianewsonline.com, its sponsors or advertisers.
  • Paul Manafort asks for trial to be moved to Roanoke

    Paul Manafort asks for trial to be moved to Roanoke

    Manafort is one of four Trump campaign or White House aides to have been charged in Mueller's investigation. Mueller's team dismissed that argument.
    Southgate's England show maturity and smartness in confident win

    Southgate's England show maturity and smartness in confident win

    Pubs were packed out as punters draped in St George's flags came together for the match, which took place in Samara, Russia . Jonathan Tickle said he expected England to find it hard to flourish against a tight Swedish defence.
    Hurricane Beryl Forms, Could Hit Lesser Antilles

    Hurricane Beryl Forms, Could Hit Lesser Antilles

    As Beryl continues to show signs of strengthening, the BVI should begin feeling the effects of the hurricane by late Sunday . The official forecast track from the National Hurricane Center takes Beryl to the eastern Caribbean Sea over the weekend.
  • Brazil's World Cup defeat hits home in Lebanon

    Brazil's World Cup defeat hits home in Lebanon

    Can Belgium's defenders stop Brazil's attacking arsenal? The victor will play France or Uruguay in the semifinals in St. It is still hard for us to understand what happened and where we made a mistake.
    Supreme Court Nominee List Shortens to Mostly 'Identical' Candidates

    Supreme Court Nominee List Shortens to Mostly 'Identical' Candidates

    Trump nominated Barrett for to the federal bench in May a year ago . "We're going to hit a home run", said Trump. Pence hasn't met with any of the other candidates, according to a White House official.
    Nun from Mother Theresa's charity charged with selling baby for R23 000

    Nun from Mother Theresa's charity charged with selling baby for R23 000

    Mandal claimed Sister Koshleniea had confessed that she had knowledge of at least four newborn babies being sold from the shelter. Mother Teresa, a Nobel Peace Prize victor and a Catholic saint, founded the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata, India, in 1950.

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.