Anyone who’s more concerned about their overall data privacy than their short term New Year’s resolutions should be very careful about what exercise, weight loss, or quitting smoking apps they load on their phones.
A new study from Incogni, a data privacy platform, took a hard look at resolution-oriented apps and found privacy risks associated with 344 such apps. Here’s a rundown of what its researchers found:
Way too much TMI: Eighty-four percent of all apps Incogni analyzed requested 10.7 permissions on average. The most-requested dangerous permissions are read (74.4%) and modify or delete (66.3%) the contents of your USB storage.
Let’s play cat and mouse: Almost half the apps want to know exactly where you are. An estimated 40% of all apps request dangerous location-related permissions, with precise location requested slightly more often (38.4% of all apps) than approximate location (37.2%).
“Do I look fat?”: Losing weight apps are the least private and have the worst privacy score. They may argue that they have to analyze and evaluate issues relating to nutrition, etc. so they need a lot of ongoing data to provide that customization.
And the best: Quitting smoking apps perform the best in terms of privacy, with the category’s average score of 23.3 being 38.4% lower than the overall average.
Other resolution-driven apps that scored above the reasonable limit in collecting personal data are:
Spending less time on social media
What privacy things you should consider when downloading an app
Incogni’s basic rule of thumb is “the more popular the app, the less private it is.”
“If you’re planning on downloading an app to help you keep track of your New Year’s resolutions, we recommend caution,” the researchers said, and pointed to three things a consumer should consider:
Choose an app with a lower privacy risk score.
Stay away from popular apps with 500k or more downloads.
Consider the categories. If choosing from a high privacy risk category, check the data safety section of the app in the Google Play or Apple app store. Below are step-by-step instructions for both Android and iPhone.