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Several apps with more than 100M download unlawfully track users

Malicious Apps
Google remvoed 29 malicious apps

Almost 17,000 apps were found to be transmitting persistent identifiers which can be used to track users and are prohibited by both Google and GDPR without users consent.

A research carried out by AppCensur determined that out of 24,000 apps in its database that could send the Advertising ID, a unique identifier created by Google, which is legally used by Google and other companies to served contextual ads.

However, more than 2/3rd of the apps were also found to be sending other unique identifiers, like Android ID, IMEI number, among others, which are not allowed by Google. This was done without users’ consent making if illegal in most countries.

Two of these apps were downloaded over a billion times, another three were downloaded half-a-billion times and several others have download count of more than 100 million.

Some of the prominent names included in the list of offenders are Subway Surfers, a popular running game, Flipboard – a Microsoft backed news app, Talking Tom – a wildly popular childrens app, and Clean Master – a Antivirus and cleaner app that is downloaded more than 1 billion times.

The research group at AppCensus tested these apps with data and found most of these apps were sending the data to companies involved in several mobile advertising, the researchers think that the companies are using to either track users or place advertisements.


List of Top 20 apps unlawfully tracking users

App NameInstallsData TypesRecipient
Clean Master – Antivirus, Cleaner & Booster1BAd ID + Android IDt.appsflyer.com
Subway Surfers1BAndroid IDapi.vungle.com
Flipboard: News For Our Time500MAd ID + Android IDad.flipboard.com
My Talking Tom500MAd ID + Android IDm2m1.inner-active.mobi
Temple Run 2500MAd ID + Android IDlive.chartboost.com
3D Bowling100MAd ID + Android ID + IMEIws.tapjoyads.com
8 Ball Pool100MAd ID + Android IDws.tapjoyads.com
Agar.io100MAd ID + Android IDws.tapjoyads.com
Angry Birds Classic100MAndroid IDads.api.vungle.com
Audiobooks from Audible100MAd ID + Android IDapi.branch.io
Azar100MAd ID + Android IDapi.branch.io
B612 – Beauty & Filter Camera100MAd ID + Android IDt.appsflyer.com
Banana Kong100M Ad ID + Android IDlive.chartboost.com
Battery Doctor – Battery Life Saver & Battery Cooler100MAd ID + Android ID + IMEIt.appsflyer.com
BeautyPlus – Easy Photo Editor & Selfie Camera100MAd ID + Android IDt.appsflyer.com,
live.chartboost.com
Bus Rush100MAd ID + Android IDads.api.vungle.com,
ws.tapjoyads.com
CamScanner – Phone PDF Creator100MAd ID + Android ID + IMEIt.appsflyer.com
Cheetah Keyboard – Emoji & Stickers Keyboard100MAd ID + Android IDt.appsflyer.com
Cooking Fever100MAd ID + Android IDws.tapjoyads.com
Cut The Rope Full FREE100MAd ID + Android IDws.tapjoyads.com

Source: AppCensus Blog

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