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Disaster Apps Share Personal Data in Violation of Their Privacy Policies

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Considering which disaster apps to use.

Even after an emergency has passed, disaster apps may still be tracking user locations or making personal information available to third parties.

Credit: Disaster Information Management Center

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) researchers found popular disaster applications are violating their privacy policies by continuing to track users' whereabouts, or providing personal information to third parties.

The UIUI team reviewed 15 apps based on popularity, their recommendation in news articles, or app market promotion.

Many ignore their own privacy policies, recording location data as the default setting once launched, and do not identify all third parties that might receive personal information.

UIUC's Madelyn Sanfilippo said privacy policies often say information might be shared with third parties, without specifying what kind of information or third parties' identity; personal data is often collected by default, with consumers unaware of how to opt out.

Sanfilippo said these findings raised questions about what constitutes an emergency, when it begins and ends, what data is appropriate to collect, who should access it and under what conditions, and when access should end.

From University of Illinois News Bureau
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