Major technology companies have already been involved in spying or obtaining user data without consent. One of the most recent involves the email application Edison, available for iPhone (iOS), and other mail services to be capturing information from users' inboxes to sell it to companies focused on the financial, travel and trade, making a profit by passing on confidential data.
READ: Apps downloaded 382 million times can spy on users, says study
Facebook, Apple and Google were also listed as companies that improperly collected data. The companies were accused of capturing different information, such as recordings of virtual assistants or the location of users, with different purposes for the use of these files. The following are six cases of applications that spied on the cell phone or obtained data illegally.
See cases in which companies illegally obtained user data Photo: Luciana Maline / dnetc
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1. E-mail apps read messages
The email management applications Edison, Cleanfox and Slice are being accused of reading data from users' inboxes to obtain personal information without the consent of the victims, with the aim of selling it to other companies in a timely manner. annima or replacing just a few names.
The contents of the e-mails would be used so that the companies that bought the data could make better investment decisions. Another company that would be selling products based on data illegally collected from Foxintelligence, which would have PayPal as one of its main customers.
According to the Motherboard, from the magazine Vice, the data captured were consumer purchase metrics and brand preferences, such as items the user bought and how much he paid for it. According to the Wall Street Journal, employees of the Edison app would have access to users ’emails just to enhance the app’s smart reply feature.
In a statement, the Edison app said it automatically collects data from commercial e-mails, extracting information anonymously, and that the technology does not include personal or professional e-mails. The note says that users have full control over how information is used in the app, and that anyone can delete data sharing from their account on the app, without affecting the service experience.
2. Facebook would have access to information from menstrual cycle apps
In 2019, Facebook was accused of receiving personal information from users of menstrual cycle apps. Through the Facebook Software Development Kit (SDK, in English), developers could share information provided by users, such as data about their health and sexual activity, for example, embedded in reports aimed at improving the performance of the app. At least six applications would be involved, including Maia and the Menstrual Calendar.
Maia App would be involved in controversy of sending confidential data to Facebook Photo: Raquel Freire / dnetc
Facebook denied having access to the data, claiming that the terms of service prevent developers from sending users' confidential data. The company responsible for the Maia application, one of those involved in the controversy, said it would make changes to its data sharing system.
3. Hearing commands from virtual assistants
Also in 2019, the news surfaced that employees hired by Apple would be listening to excerpts of audio captured by Siri through the iPhone, Apple Watch and HomePod. These employees could listen to private information, such as intimate conversations, negotiations or even people having sex.
Apple confirmed that humans would have access to a small amount of Siri's audio in order to detect technical flaws in the virtual assistant, but defended itself by claiming that the confidentiality protocols in its facilities would prevent employees from identifying users through the recordings. .
Even so, the company suspended the global audio analysis program the following month. With the release of iOS 13.2, Apple now allows you to delete all recordings and choose to activate or not to send data. Google also revealed that it used humans to analyze Google Assistant recordings for the purpose of improving the tool, but also suspended listening.
Apple employees listened to excerpts from Siri consultation files Photo: Rubens Achilles / dnetc
4. Bug allows to activate background camera on iPhone
A bug in the Facebook iPhone app allowed the cell phone's camera to be secretly activated in the background while the person was browsing the app. The behavior suggested that the app might be spying on users through images.
The error was fixed in an update of the application, and the justification that the version was launched incorrectly in landscape mode. Facebook also stated that there is no evidence that photos or videos were exported by the bug.
5. Instagram marketing app collected profile data
The Hyp3r app, one of Facebook's official marketing partners for creating campaigns on Instagram, has been banned from the social network for collecting unauthorized user data. The information was being used to discover people's interests for the purpose of using in targeted advertising. The app would be permanently storing information such as location, number of likes and stories from hundreds of thousands of users worldwide.
In addition to removing the app, Instagram made changes to the product to prevent new tools from continuing with the abusive data collection. However, the company stated that it was not possible to request that the banned app delete the information captured so far.
6. Facebook accesses location even without permission
Facebook admitted that it accesses the users' location even when permission is not granted. The confession was made after questioning by some American senators, who noticed advertisements based on the region they were in, even with the location service disabled.
Facebook accesses location even if user does not give permission Photo: Divulgao / Facebook
Facebook said it identified users' locations through other information shared on the social network, such as videos, tags and the device's IP address. The company also said that while the data was being used to make ads more relevant, advertisers would not have access to that information. Finally, Facebook also stated that the locations identified in these cases are not added to the location history.
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