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There was a 5% rise in the number of Android apps requesting 'dangerous permissions' in 2020

Jan 15, 2021 9:30:00 AM

Pixalate's Mobile Ad Supply Chain: App Safety & Consumer Data Privacy Report (Q3 2020) reveals information about the 5.1+ million apps available to consumers across the Google Play and Apple App stores from Q1-Q3 2020 — with a specific look at apps for kids (aged 12 and under).

This blog examines the number of apps available on the Google Play Store that request any "dangerous permission" (as defined by Google), such as precise location access, access to the phone's camera or microphone, and more. location access (latitude and longitude GPS).

70% (2.3M+) of Google Play Store apps request 'dangerous permission(s)'

q3-2020-app-safety-dangerous-permission-trends

As of the end of Q3 2020:
  • 70% of apps on the Google Play Store request access to one more more "dangerous permission(s)" — up from 66.6% in Q120 (a 5% rise)
  • 69.4% of apps for kids (aged 12 & under) request at least one dangerous permission, up from 68.8% in Q1 (a 1% rise)
  • This means that over 2.3 million total apps, over over 2.1 million apps for kids (12&U) request at least one dangerous permission

What are some examples of 'dangerous permissions' on Android apps?

Permission

Description

WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE

Allows an application to write to external storage.

CAMERA

Required to be able to access the camera device.

CALL_PHONE

Allows an application to initiate a phone call without going through the Dialer user interface for the user to confirm the call.

BODY_SENSORS

Allows an application to access data from sensors that the user uses to measure what is happening inside his/her body, such as heart rate.

RECORD_AUDIO

Allows an application to record audio.

READ_CALENDAR

Allows an application to read the user's calendar data.

READ_CALL_LOG

Allows an application to read the user's call log.

READ_CONTACTS

Allows an application to read the user's contacts data.

WRITE_CALENDAR

Allows an application to write the user's calendar data.

WRITE_CONTACTS

Allows an application to write the user's contacts data.

READ_PHONE_STATE

Allows read only access to phone state, including the phone number of the device, current cellular network information, the status of any ongoing calls, and a list of any PhoneAccounts registered on the device.

ANSWER_PHONE_CALLS

Allows the app to answer an incoming phone call.

ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION

Allows an app to access precise latitude and longitude.

ACCESS_COARSE_LOCATION

Allows an app to access approximate location.

ACCESS_BACKGROUND_LOCATION

Allows an app to access location in the background.

 

What’s inside Pixalate’s report — Mobile Ad Supply Chain: App Safety & Consumer Data Privacy (Q3 2020)

Inside our Q3 2020 mobile advertising app safety report, you’ll find:

  • iOS & Android app growth trends
  • App transparency and privacy policy trends
  • Country of registration of apps for kids
  • ‘Dangerous permission’ on apps for kids
  • And more

See The Research

Disclaimer

The content of this blog, and the Q3 2020 Mobile App Safety: Consumer Data Privacy Report (the "Report"), reflect Pixalate's opinions with respect to factors that Pixalate believes can be useful to the digital media industry. Any insights shared are grounded in Pixalate's proprietary technology and analytics, which Pixalate is continuously evaluating and updating. Any references to outside sources in the Report and herein should not be construed as endorsements. Pixalate's opinions are just that, opinions, which means that they are neither facts nor guarantees. It is important to also note that the mere fact that an app receives “dangerous permissions” (as defined by Google), does not appear to have a published registration address (or is registered in a traditional tax haven country), does not appear to have a privacy policy or terms of service, or appears to have other risk factors as set forth herein, does not necessarily mean that such app, or its publisher, is actually violating any particular law (e.g., COPPA) or is otherwise exploiting personal data. Instead, Pixalate is merely rendering an opinion that these facts may be suggestive of heightened risks to data subjects, especially with respect to children aged 12 and under. Pixalate is sharing this data not to impugn the standing or reputation of any entity, person or app, but, instead, to report facts as they pertain to Android and iOS apps. 

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