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Apps possibly sending data to US intelligence authorities could be on your Galaxy phone


Last updated: April 7th, 2022 at 15:06 UTC+02:00

A number of Android apps got removed from the Google Play Store recently after researchers have discovered that the apps contained data-harvesting code obtained from a company based in Panama called Measurement Systems.

Researchers have found that the latter collaborates with United States security agencies, and it’s also using a subsidiary company called Packet Forensics LLC to engage in data-sharing with the US government.

Researchers who have brought their findings to federal privacy officials, Google, and Wall Street Journal (via Android Police), say that Android app developers reportedly got paid by Measurement Systems in exchange for implementing their software development kit (SDK) code into their apps.

Upon closer inspection, it turned out that apps carrying this code could gather information, including email addresses, phone numbers, data from WhatsApp image folders, and location data. The code can even gather bits of information from surrounding devices.

The report doesn’t name any apps specifically, but the ones that contained code from Measurement Systems included QR code reader apps, highway speed trap detectors, and Muslim prayer apps. The devs that injected the SDK could reportedly earn anywhere from $100 to $10,000 per month.

Thankfully for at least some of these Android app developers, they were reportedly allowed to return to the Google Play platform and republish their apps once they’ve had the code from Measurement Systems removed.

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