Feeds

Pandora's mobile app transmits 'mass quantities' of user data

From Android's lips to advertisers' ears

Build a business case: developing custom apps

A free smartphone app provided by internet radio service Pandora supplies advertisers with enough user information for them to compile detailed snapshots of those who use it, researchers who analyzed the software have said.

Tuesday's report, titled Mobile Apps Invading Your Privacy and issued by software analysis firm Veracode, found that Pandora's app tracked users' age, sex, zip code and precise geographic location, which in many cases was updated in a continuous loop. The app then sent such information to servers operated by advertising services including AdMarvel and AdMob. Other information that was shared included the phone's device ID and the user's birth date.

The report follows Monday's revelation that federal prosecutors are investigating whether smartphone apps have been illegally collecting information about handset users without proper disclosures. Pandora has said it received a subpoena in the matter and believes other app providers have, as well.

If Veracode's findings are correct, they could provide plenty of fodder to investigators.

“It means your personal information is being transmitted to advertising agencies in mass quantities,” Veracode's Tyler Shields wrote.

He continued:

In isolation some of this data is uninteresting, but when compiled into a single unifying picture, it can provide significant insight into a person's life. Consider for a moment that your current location is being tracked while you are at your home, office, or significant other's house. Couple that with your gender and age and then with your geolocated IP address. When all that is placed into a single basket, it's pretty easy to determine who someone is, what they do for a living, who they associate with, and any number of other traits about them. I don't know about you, but that feels a little Orwellian to me.

A spokeswoman for the California-based company declined to comment until after a pending initial public offering is completed.

The report focused solely on Pandora's app for phones running Google's Android operating system. It found that the app is bundled with code libraries offered by five services, which in addition to AdMarvel and AdMob, include comScore, Google.Ads, and Medialets.

Pandora's audience has doubled to more than 80 million listeners, thanks to the popularity of its iPhone app, USA Today reported in January. Veracode's report made no reference to that app, presumably because of the closed nature of Apple's iOS. ®

This story was updated to reflect Veracode's reporting that personally identifiable information is sent to AdMarvel and AdMob. According to the report, comScore receives hashed information.

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Rupert Murdoch says Google is worse than the NSA
Mr Burns vs. The Chocolate Factory, round three!
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Germany 'accidentally' snooped on John Kerry and Hillary Clinton
Dragnet surveillance picks up EVERYTHING, USA, m'kay?
Know what Ferguson city needs right now? It's not Anonymous doxing random people
U-turn on vow to identify killer cop after fingering wrong bloke
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
Think crypto hides you from spooks on Facebook? THINK AGAIN
Traffic fingerprints reveal all, say boffins
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.