Nowadays, digital privacy is one of the most important talking points, and it seems that we just can’t keep our data safe. Researchers at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland have made a discovery that should make most Android users a little worried. A published paper reveals that, even when you opt-out of all data tracking, some Android phones still share your data.
The research found that these tracking methods are inevitable
When we don’t want our data tracked, we would simply go to our settings (both system and app settings) and tap “Do Not Share.” Though this gives us a sense of security, it doesn’t cover all of the bases. The problem stems from system apps and bloatware.
When you get a new phone, there are usually pre-installed apps, and you can’t get rid of some of them. Well, some of those apps actually send a steady stream of data back to either the OEM. This can either go for that gratuitous game launcher that came on your phone or even your calculator.
Even your basic system apps can send data back to the OEM. The research found that the messenger on some phones would send data back to the OEM like timestamps, when you send messages, and how many you send. However, there’s no data suggesting that the company can read the messages.
What makes this so worrisome is the fact that you can’t delete these apps. They come baked into the Android software and share your data from the get-go.
The companies in the research are Samsung, Xiaomi, Huawei, and Realme
We don’t quite know the extent of this yet, but so far, we know that Samsung, Xiaomi, Huawei, Realme are some of the companies doing this. This is really scary because Samsung and Huawei are two of the biggest Android manufacturers.
The aforementioned messaging data swapping happens on Xiaomi and Huawei phones. Considering what happened between Huawei and the US government, it’s surprising to see this still going on.
Android phones also share your data with software developers
The OEMs aren’t the only ones getting fed the data. The research also found that Android phones also share your data to software developers via pre-installed apps. This includes Facebook (yes, the king of internet privacy), Microsoft, Linkedin, Heytap, and even Google itself.
There’s no telling just how many other apps are sending data, but this is a major issue that Google will hopefully address in the future. Samsung, Xiaomi, Huawei, and Realme aren’t the only companies doing this, they’re just the biggest offenders.