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Over 66% of Android and iOS Apps Have No Identifiable Address: Pixalate’s H1 2020 Mobile Advertising App Safety Report

Sep 21, 2020 6:45:00 AM

Pixalate's study of 4.7M+ apps shines a light on consumer privacy risk factors across the top mobile app stores

As the mobile app world continues to grow, with over 4.7 million combined apps in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store, apps are gaining access to more and more consumer data. But not enough is known about where the apps are registered — and where the consumer data they collect is stored and processed.

Today, Pixalate, a global ad fraud intelligence and marketing compliance company, released its H1 2020 Mobile Advertising: App Safety Report, a deep dive into the state of mobile apps today.

Pixalate’s report looks at app popularity, consumer privacy dangers, app country of registry (or lack thereof) and more.

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Key findings:

Address of registry is largely unknown

ios-country-of-registry-mobile-app-safety-h1-2020-pixalate

  • 66% of Android apps and 78% of iOS apps have no identifiable address of registry
  • Apps from Cyprus, a traditional shell company location, have an average of 2.5 million downloads each — more than 2x higher than any other app country of registry

Dangerous permissions are everywhere

android-dangerous-permissions-mobile-app-safety-h1-2020-pixalate

  • 2.1M+ (70%) Android apps have at least one dangerous permission
  • The U.S. is the world’s biggest offender with 77% of U.S.-based Android apps having dangerous permission(s)

Among the most common dangerous permissions are:

  • Read & Write External Storage (e.g. upload or delete files)
  • Location Access (e.g. precise GPS)
  • Camera Access (e.g. record or take pictures)
  • Read Phone State (e.g. see phone number & network info)

Apps keep growing in popularity 

android-downloads-mobile-app-safety-h1-2020-pixalate

  • Android apps collectively had over 347.6 billion downloads as of the end of H1’20 — a 6.3% increase from Q1 to Q2
  • iOS apps collectively had over 984 million user ratings downloads (a proxy for popularity) of the end of H1’20 — an 11.6% increase quarter to quarter

The report also breaks down:

  • Most popular apps, ranked by number of downloads and user ratings
  • Most popular Android apps with dangerous permissions
  • Most popular app developers 

Download a free copy of the H1 2020 Mobile Advertising App Safety report today.

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About Pixalate

Pixalate is a global ad fraud intelligence and marketing compliance platform that works with brands and platforms to prevent invalid traffic and improve ad inventory quality. We offer the only system of coordinated solutions across display, app, video, and OTT/CTV for better detection and elimination of ad fraud.

Pixalate is an MRC-accredited service for the detection and filtration of sophisticated invalid traffic (SIVT) across desktop and mobile web, mobile in-app, and OTT/CTV advertising. www.pixalate.com

Disclaimer

The content of this press release, and the H1 2020 Mobile Advertising: App Safety Report  (the "Report"), reflect Pixalate's opinions with respect to the factors that Pixalate believes can be useful to the digital media industry. Any proprietary data shared is grounded in Pixalate's proprietary technology and analytics, which Pixalate is continuously evaluating and updating. As cited in the Report and referenced in the Report's key findings reproduced herein, programmatic ad transactions, as measured by Pixalate, are used as a proxy for ad spend. The Report examines U.S. advertising activity. 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, for example, an app receives “dangerous permissions”  (as defined by Google), appears to be transmitting personal data from the E.U. to countries that have not yet been identified by the European Commission as having adequate privacy safeguards, or is registered in a traditional tax haven country or a country that appears to be receiving heightened scrutiny by U.S. or E.U. governmental bodies does not necessarily mean that such app, or its publisher, is actually exploiting data subjects. Instead, Pixalate is merely rendering an opinion that such facts may be suggestive of heightened risks to data subjects. 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 delisted Android and iOS apps.

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