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8 Surprising Apps that Are Saving Your Data

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Your mobile apps are collecting data about you: it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. With major stories in the media in recent years, like the 2020 Norwegian Consumer Council study or the 2019 exposé by the Washington Post, stories about apps tracking and saving your data are everywhere.

For some of the apps in these studies, it’s expected that they collect so much data. But for others, it’s surprising how much info they’re gathering about you. We’ve made a list of eight of the most unexpected apps that collect your personal data. Many of these apps made our list based on a 2020 study that Clario Tech did on apps that collect personal data. They chose 48 popular mobile applications and checked them for 34 pieces of data that could be collected about you.

If you’re using any of these popular apps, know that they may be collecting a good deal of data on you.

Mint

The free budgeting app is a convenient way to keep track of your spending, but it also has access to your bank details and monitors your transactions. It collects information like your age and does not sell it to third parties; but it does anonymize it and send it in batches to third parties. And as long as the Mint application is on your phone, it can collect potentially reputation-damaging information about you (like the medications you purchase with the credit card you have linked to the app).

The Weather Channel

Not only is the company behind The Weather Channel app collecting your location data, it’s also selling it to third parties. The city of Los Angeles filed suit against IBM for this breach, but ended up settling, allowing IBM to continue sharing users’ location data with third parties as long as they have location services turned on in the app.

Spotify

On the Clario list of apps that collect data, Spotify came in at number eight. The app takes your basic info, but also collects data on your interests to recommend content to you. Spotify is also one of only eight apps on the Clario list that accesses friends, hobbies, and interests from your connected social profiles.

MyFitnessPal

In addition to being an app that suffered a major data breach in 2018, MyFitnessPal also collects a significant amount of data on its users. The app collects basics like email, name, and age, but it also gathers your mobile number, the type of device you’re using, home address, bank account details, height, weight, and allergies. In the Clario study, MyFitnessPal ranked as number nine out of 48 apps for most data collected.

Netflix

You wouldn’t think an app that streams movies and TV series would need that much personal info about its users, but Netflix actually came in at number 13 on the Clario list, ranking above PayPal, Amazon, Deliveroo, and Google Maps. Netflix collects this data to make content suggestions to users. Since this type of data collection is expected, many app users don’t mind, however.

Tinder

The dating app Tinder gathers a ton of info on its users — more than half of the indicators the Clario team looked for. On their list, Tinder came in at number three, with only Facebook and Instagram ahead of it. Tinder collects your live location, which most people already know since it’s a fundamental feature of the app. But since Tinder is a dating app, it also collects your gender/sex in addition to sexual orientation. It also collects employment information that many other apps don’t, such as employment status and job title. Oh, and Tinder knows how tall you are.

Another dating app that’s been criticized heavily for how much data it collects (and is number four on the Clario list) is Grindr. In January 2021, the Norwegian Data Protection Authority even announced it was fining Grindr €9.6 million for privacy invasions.

Uber

Uber collects your live location and bank account information, which most people know and agree to when they use the app. But Uber is gathering so much more data that it ranks as number five on the Clario list. It also collects home addresses, employment status, job title, hobbies, interests (why does a ridesharing app need to know you like knitting?), past employers, and your friends on your connected social profile.

Strava

Strava is a running and cycling app that knows where you live, what your mobile number is, how tall you are, how much you weigh, and can access your major social profiles. Strava also uses live location to know where you are. That’s quite a bit of data for an app that’s just supposed to help you exercise.

Apps that gather your data: what now?

It’s one thing to know which apps are collecting your data, it’s another to realize what they’re doing with it. In some cases, the app might not be collecting much from you, but could be selling what it does collect to third parties. Know that with many apps, you can control some of the data they take from you. For example, never connect to a new app with one of your social media accounts, even if it’s more convenient. You can also turn off location services on your device so apps aren’t collecting location data in the background. And even though it’s a pain, read through an app’s privacy policy before agreeing to its terms. You’ll be glad you did.

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