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Android budgeting apps hungry for data, study shows

Popular apps to get people’s finances in order are lavishly sharing user data. A third of the most popular budgeting apps share data with third parties.

Popular Android budgeting apps are not conservative when it comes to data collection, a recent report by Incogni, a privacy protection firm, revealed.

Out of the 38 data points that Google Play Store allows developers to collect, budgeting apps gather nine per app. Interestingly, budgeting apps collect user data that fall into 12 out of a possible 14 categories.

According to researchers, the apps they looked into left out only data related to Health and fitness and Web browsing. However, personal information such as names, email addresses, and similar information was collected 51 times.

Financial data such as credit score or payment history was collected 31 times, app info and performance 29 times, and app activity like user-generated content and other installed apps, 21 times, researchers discovered.

“The most desired was user email addresses, with 75% of analyzed apps collecting this data point. Not far behind came device or other IDs, with 70% of apps collecting them, and user IDs, purchase history, and app interactions with 65% of apps collecting each,” reads the report.

Researchers also found out that 12 out of the 20 apps in question share at least some data with third parties, with an average of five data points shared per app. However, only a third of all collected data is shared with outside organizations.

Budgeting apps have also been found to be demanding when it comes to app permission. The latter gives apps access to parts of your device, which they may also share. The report indicates that, on average, apps request 11 permissions, with some demanding as many as 18 and others as few as six.

Some of the permissions demanded by apps did not seem to correlate with their primary tasks. For example, some apps ask permission to read user calendar events, read contact details, and even access Bluetooth settings.

According to the report, the more popular apps are, the more data they collect. For example, apps with over five million downloads on average collected 12.3 data points, compared to 7.6 points collected by those with under 5 million downloads.

Similarly, more popular apps share more data points with third parties. The most popular apps share 3.7 data points, while the less popular apps share 2.9.

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