Those phone apps could be sharing your data


(CBS) What we do on the internet is far from anonymous. Many of the sites we visit and apps we use share our information.

Ring cameras made headlines recently after hackers were able to access some of the devices and even talk through them. A new report is questioning the company’s use of its customers’ data. The Electronic Frontier Foundation looked at Ring’s app for Android devices and found it shares info with several marketing and analytics companies.

Matthew Guariglia is a policy analyst with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He says: “What these analytics do is they collect a lot of very specific information about a phone and about a user who’s using a specific app. So for instance, what you’re clicking on the app, how long you’re using it for, but also what kind of device you’re on, what sort of WiFi you’re using to connect through the app.”

EFF also says Facebook is alerted when a user opens the Ring app. In a statement Ring says: “Like many companies, Ring uses third-party service providers to evaluate the use of our mobile app, which helps us improve features, optimize the customer experience, and evaluate the effectiveness of our marketing.”

CNET senior reporter Alfred Ng says Ring is far from alone. Many popular apps share data with third parties including Facebook. “Facebook has its hands in a lot of the internet,” he says. If you want to see how much, Facebook has added a feature called “Off Facebook Activity.” There, you can see all the apps and websites that are sharing your activity with Facebook. You can also turn off future activity. “Now that doesn’t mean that, you know, Facebook is no longer tracking your activity off websites,” Ng says, “it’s just not tied to your identity on Facebook anymore.”

Ng says apps and websites tracking our habits have become an industry standard that’s likely here to stay.

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