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Data-Harvesting Code in Mobile Apps Sends User Data to 'Russia's Google'


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The Yandex logo.

Said Yandex, “We inform developers regarding the functioning of AppMetrica, and they are obliged, if required by law, to get consent from their users.”

Credit: Yandex

As part of an app-auditing campaign for the non-profit Me2B Alliance, researcher Zach Edwards found that Yandex, known as "Russia's Google," has embedded code in apps for mobile devices running Apple's iOS and Google's Android systems that allows data to be sent to servers in Russia.

The software has been found in 52,000 apps used by hundreds of millions of consumers.

Said Edwards, "The AppMetrica SDK [software development kit] claims to provide appropriate services, all while phoning home to Moscow with deeply invasive metadata details that can be used to track people across Websites and apps."

Games, messaging apps, location-sharing tools, and virtual private networks are among the apps in which AppMetrica has been found.

Yandex said its SDK "operates in the same way as international peers" like Google Firebase, and collects data only "after the app receives users' consent" via Android and iOS apps.

From Ars Technica
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