I love Pandora. I really couldn't do without it. But I could do without its sending my demographic information, phone ID, and location to eight trackers across six companies. And Pandora's far from the worst offender, the WSJ shows us.
The Journal's report lays bear much of what we already suspected, or outright knew but didn't bother thinking about: iOS and Android apps are having a field day with your personal info. More than half of the 101 popular apps they tested sent your UDID to companies without your awareness or consent. Nearly as many sent your location, and a handful even sent along demographic info and other personal details to advertisers.
It's a small sample size given the hundreds of thousands of apps out there, but it's hard to imagine that the most prominent names just happen to be the most aberrant. And the list of worst offenders also reads like a roll-call of must haves: Pandora. Angry Birds. Netflix. Shazam. Et tu, Yelp?
iOS apps shared more data than Android apps, on the whole - somewhat surprising given the rigidity of the App Store approval process compared to Android's looser environment. And there's really nothing you can do to stop it.
There's something Apple and Google could do, though: create privacy policies. Make it abundantly clear to users what information apps are going to take, who they're going to send it to. And if you're feeling really generous this holiday season, give us a chance to opt out.