Few devices know more personal details about people than the smartphones in their pockets: phone numbers, current location, often the owner's real name—even a unique ID number that can never be changed or turned off. These phones don't keep secrets. They are sharing this personal data widely and regularly, a Wall Street Journal investigation has found. An examination of 101 popular smartphone "apps"—games and other software applications for iPhone and Android phones—showed that 56 transmitted the phone's unique device ID to other companies without users' awareness or consent. Forty-seven apps transmitted the phone's location in some way. Five sent age, gender and other personal details to outsiders.
Meanwhile, Kim Mai-Cutler has a fantastic response to this that raises legitimate concerns about pieces like the WSJ's:
On the whole, the “What They Know” series is great for mainstream consumer education. But its scare-mongering and sometimes simplistic descriptions of industry practices creates risk that uninformed policymakers will draft poorly targeted legislation. It could end up being unnecessarily destructive to consumer Internet businesses or be so cosmetic that it doesn’t really fix underlying problems.