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Android Market filters mature content but has one fatal flaw

Among the many, many, changes to the Android Market announced in recent weeks, Android users can now personalize their Market by filtering out apps marked as mature. Turning on app ratings will then block Android apps that have a maturity rating higher than the setting that a user chooses (Everyone, Low, Medium, or High).

Android Market filtering is great, but the problem is that it relies on developers to be honest and accurately rate their apps. Considering how many developers cheat search results by putting in keywords that have absolutely nothing to do with their app, trusting devs to be honest seems silly. That’s as crazy as letting the banking industry police itself.

I grow tired of seeing “Sexy Girl” wallpaper apps every time I search for new Android apps, so I set my Android Market to only show apps available to “Everyone.” But instead of blocking all of the crappy sexy apps, Everyone merely dropped the number of those apps from to 1,164 to 182. It’s good to see a decline that steep, but 182 is still a large number of offensive apps trickling into what should be a mature-free browsing experience. Read the rest of this entry

Google sued over Android location tracking

Google’s legal team will be earning their keep once more, with the search giant again in hot water over privacy concerns. Hot on the heels of the Apple iPhone tracking lawsuit comes similar charges leveled at Google, with two Michigan women suing the company for $50m and the cessation of sales of devices with software that can track user location.

According to the class-action suit, filed in Detroit, Google’s use of location tracking systems puts its “users at serous risk of privacy invasions, including stalking.” Google has declined to comment on the case, but Android does give users the chance to turn off location reporting as part of the initial setup of handsets (and then again in the settings pages).

Researchers highlighted Android’s collection of location data last week, with handsets running the OS reporting back their position to Google on several occasions every hour. Apple was challenged with the same allegations, and earlier this week released a Q&A attempting to explain how in fact the iPhone was logging the location of cell towers and WiFi hotspots, not its own position. That data, the company argued, allowed it to speed up positioning fixes in mapping apps and other LBS.

Apple sued over privacy in iPhone, iPad apps

Apple is being sued for allegedly letting mobile apps on the iPhone and iPad send personal information to ad networks without the consent of users.

 

 

Jonathan Lalo, who filed the lawsuit on Thursday in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif., alleges that Apple’s iPhones and iPads let ad networks track which applications people download, how often they’re used, and for how long, according to a Bloomberg article published today.

Specifically, the suit alleges that the ad networks are able to trace an iPhone or iPad using the unique device identifier, or UDID, which is a number specific to each unit that can’t be blocked by users. Claiming that sending personal data without consent violates federal computer fraud and privacy laws, the suit is seeking class action status on behalf of all Apple iPhone and iPad users who downloaded an app between December 1, 2008, and last week, according to Bloomberg.

Privacy concerns over mobile data have heated up lately. Last week, a Wall Street Journal article asserted that mobile apps send certain information without the user’s consent or knowledge. That article helped light a fire under the Mobile Marketing Association, an industry group that is now calling for new, more transparent privacy guidelines to tell consumers what information gets sent to advertisers and how it’s used.

Along with Apple, the lawsuit names as defendants certain mobile apps, such as Pandora, Paper Toss, Weather Channel, and Dictionary.com, Bloomberg reported.

The Journal article had specifically mentioned Pandora, which it found was sending age, gender, and other personal information to ad networks, and Paper Toss, which the paper asserted was transmitting UDIDs.

An Apple representative told CNET today that the company declines to comment on the suit.

 

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