It's not clear when it all started and how long it lasts, but some applications secretly from users use the microphone of their smartphones. But not to spy on users and overhear their conversations, but to track the TV content they watch. About this relatively common and outrageous practice tells the edition of The New York Times.
The publication says that it found in the official Google Play Store store more than 250 games, in the source code of which there is a part responsible for this secret functionality with the use of a microphone for eavesdropping of the viewed users of advertising and films.
Edition The Verge notes that for the sake of interest, it has installed one game from the list – the Endless 9 * 9 puzzle, developed by Imobile Game Studios. As reported, immediately after installation, the application immediately and without any explanation requested access to geolocation data and a microphone. Interestingly, the settings in the game say that the application collects certain "television data" in order to display "relevant content and advertising." That is, in most cases, users, without suspecting anything, give permission to use the microphone to collect data.
As noted by NYT, the Federal Trade Commission has already made comments to companies on this matter. In 2016, the agency appealed to dozens of developers using a similar software called SilverPush, stating the need to notify users about the data being collected. Those applications, unlike the mentioned NYT, did not warn about data collection in general, either explicitly or in hidden.
Even more interesting is that, as reported by NYT, some of these applications even after closing continue to collect data through a microphone . Apparently, they just continue to work in the background. By the way, similar applications are not only on Android, in the app store App Store also has a similar software. Both Google and Apple require that applications necessarily require access to the microphone and permissions management is an important part of both the most popular mobile platforms. In other words, without the user's permission, the software can not access the microphone, but not always users pay due attention to this important aspect. And, as this and other examples show before, in vain. It is better to think carefully and re-read all the conditions for using one or another software before pressing the button to agree and distributing permissions to the right and left. Let this case be instructive for all of us because nobody is immune from this because of inattention.
Over the past few years, we've heard a lot of myths that popular applications like Facebook overhear users through microphones, but here is a slightly different situation. This software is set up precisely to eavesdrop on TV shows, films and advertisements for displaying targeted advertisements. That is, the scale of the wiretapping is not the same, although it is still not very pleasant. As for Facebook, you can not worry much here. They simply do not need it, social networks lack information collected through their website, applications and advertising resources on third-party resources.
Source: The Verge and The New York Times