Even as the dust of Facebook data breach is not yet settled, Vox, a popular media agency, has raised concerns of user data compromised by popular games.
Explained in detail, Vox has taken an example of Angry Birds, a puzzle video game developed by Rovio Entertainment.
Seemingly Harmless Mobile Games Encourage Us to Give Away Personal Information
According to the editorial published on Vox, Angry Birds shares advertising data to 43 entities. Surprisingly, its developer Rovio was clueless about the data sent through third-party SDKs.
As per Vox, “Almost every app on your phone is full of third-party advertising intermediaries — at a minimum, ad software owned by Facebook or Twitter or Google, but often a couple of dozen other companies you haven’t even heard of, as well […]”
“The way mobile games collect information about their users, and the details of what type of information they’re collecting, remains incredibly opaque. To some extent, Rovio and its peers may not even know exactly what they’re collecting about their users or how the data is being exploited, thanks to the way software has evolved in the smartphone era. Mobile games are full of other companies’ code, a more efficient way of creating something cheap and functional and cute than building it from scratch.”
About the gameplay data, Vox study says, “The intricacies of gameplay data can tell you a lot about what makes people tick, and what’s going on with them — studies have shown that you play games differently when you’re depressed, or dieting.”
“Nobody gets too upset about games,” says University of Toronto researcher David Nieborg. “But the underlying technology is really powerful. These people are really pushing the technology to the limits where the potential for abuse is massive.”
Privacy policies mentioned in black and white are not necessarily put in to practice by game developers or advertisers.
“A recent New York Times investigation found that it’s shockingly easy to de-anonymize, and that hundreds of apps collect “anonymous” real-time location data that needs only the slimmest additional context clues to tie to an individual person. (E.g. the phone goes to and from this house and this law office every day, or this house and this fourth-grade classroom.”
“A spokesperson for Rovio tells Vox that Rovio games use only the resettable advertising IDs provided by Apple and Google, and don’t include third-party advertiser software development kits, but the recent Berkeley study said otherwise. I ask Reardon to double-check, and he sifts through the source code of the latest version of the Angry Birds flagship app. Just as before, he finds several third-party software development kits, including those for Facebook and Vungle.”
“When I ask Rovio again, a spokesperson revises. The company has “always preferred” to use more transparent server-to-server connections rather than include third-party software development kits directly in their games, but that’s “not an option that is always available nor possible.”
Privacy and security are fundamental rights of every person. Snooping on the two can be a crime. However, game developers use intricate codes and design beautiful interface to lose yourself into the facade. Behind this facade, your personal information and data are siphoned off.
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