Open Access Article

Title: Android apps and advertising networks - a survey on data privacy

Authors: Dirk Pawlaszczyk; Jannik Weber; Ralf Zimmermann; Christian Hummert

Addresses: Hochschule Mittweida – University of Applied Sciences, Technikumplatz 17, Mittweida, 09648, Germany ' Central Office for Information Technology in the Security Sector (ZITiS), Zamdorfer Str. 88, Munich, 81677, Germany ' Central Office for Information Technology in the Security Sector (ZITiS), Zamdorfer Str. 88, Munich, 81677, Germany ' Central Office for Information Technology in the Security Sector (ZITiS), Zamdorfer Str. 88, Munich, 81677, Germany

Abstract: Advertising networks bring companies together that run advertisements on websites or within apps. Targeting capabilities of the advertisers have increased drastically over the last years due to the availability user data and advances in data science: whether users log on to social networks or use a mobile app, they leave their traces everywhere and leave valuable data for analysis. However, even in the background and unconsciously to many users, personal data is stored and processed by third parties. This data is used to get to know potential customers better and to align the appropriate advertising with them automatically. This work analyses selected advertising networks in Android apps concerning their data collection behaviour. Therefore a selection of 100 apps from the Google Play Store has been analysed on their contained advertising networks. The network traffic originating from the given apps as well as the app behaviour has been analysed. It is pointed out which data is collected and transferred. The results are quite surprising stating that the top app comprising 14 advertising networks. The conformity and completeness of the information provided in the data privacy declarations will also be assessed.

Keywords: data privacy; advertising networks; Android apps; digital forensics.

DOI: 10.1504/IJIPSI.2020.115509

International Journal of Information Privacy, Security and Integrity, 2020 Vol.4 No.4, pp.261 - 275

Received: 28 May 2020
Accepted: 04 Dec 2020

Published online: 28 May 2021 *