contador web Skip to content

Popular App Store games collect data that not even their developers are aware of

Discussion of apps that capture users' personal data and share them with third parties (such as advertisers) has been going on for some time, but is generally restricted to social apps and those that are clearly malicious. Another category, however, has been much more discreet and, one might say, successful in sharing people's information: games.

O Vox recently published a very interesting story about the strategies used by developers behind some of the most popular games on the App Store (and Google Play) to share this data and make money. The most worrying question: in many instances, these strategies are not even cases of developers who don't even know the types of information they are sharing and to whom this data is being delivered.

The crux of the problem lies in the fact that almost never the code of a game made entirely by its developer. The stadium uses the engine from another company and incorporates codes from social networks and "monetizing" companies to bill with the app, even while not charging for it. These money companies often operate almost to the limit of legality, navigating legal loopholes and obscure practices to capture as much user data as possible.

The Matter of Vox d the example of Rovio, the Finnish developer that overnight became one of the largest in the world in its segment with the Angry Birds phenomenon. The company has, in its privacy policy, a list of 43 data processors and controllers for sending user information, but a Berkeley University study showed that it didn't look like this: Angry Birds made a list of 17,000 Google apps Play that collected permanent user IDs, which is not explicit in the above list.

Asked, Rovio stated that it only uses resettable advertising IDs provided by Apple and Google. Faced with evidence from the University of Berkeley, however, the company changed its discourse, saying it "always preferred" to use more transparent connections between servers, but this is not always possible.

It can be argued that games do not have the ability to capture / share data as sensitive as, say, Facebook or Twitter after all, we typically do not enter personal information or share intimate secrets during a Candy Crush match or whatever. Still, these apps can extract important aspects of users' lives: data such as who plays, how long they play, how well they play, and how much they spend on the game, all of which advertisers are interested in.

Just to be clear, we are not necessarily talking about games that hide malicious or virulent behavior in most cases, the data they collect is within the rules of the App Store and Google Play. Still, the reminder is that sometimes even seemingly harmless apps (like games) bring darker and less transparent data capture policies than we would like.

As with all aspects of the internet (and life), therefore, every little care.

via 9to5Mac