Mobile-App Pandora Subpoenaed To Probe Privacy
Pandora and other smartphone app makers are targeted by a federal criminal investigation to determine if their apps illegally collect and transmit private user data to advertisers. The subpoenas have been issued to app makers from the Apple iPhone camp as well as the Google Android operating system and seeks to uncover whether they properly informed customers about the personal data (location, age, and gender) that was collected and shared.
“We were served with a subpoena to produce documents in connection with a federal grand jury, which we believe was convened to investigate the information sharing processes of certain popular applications that run on the Apple and Android mobile platforms,” Pandora said in a statement on the matter.
Apps developers face even more scrutiny by regulators and privacy groups, as their popularity continues to grow. Most apps use programs to track advertising and to monitor how users interact with the software. The apps developers collect information such as age, gender, zip code and any material available on their profile. This raises privacy concerns over the information collected and shared.
In a study conducted last year, the Wall Street Journal found that of 101 apps tested, 56 broadcast phones’ unique identification number without users’ consent.
It’s not clear how many app developers have been subpoena, but Apple and Google have also been contacted by investigators. However, experts say that companies in this situation usually opt for non-prosecution or settlements. Perhaps Pandora’s disclosure of their investigation on the SEC filling will lead to some settlement with prosecutors down the road.
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