News Tech: Have you ever tapped a link to open it when navigating a mobile app?
Felix Krause, a software developer and security expert, has evaluated what code is added to a website to track user activity when it is accessed through an app.
Some of the information that popular apps can track and gather while utilising in-app browsers has been made public by new study.
This includes any links or advertisements that were clicked on a creator’s profile.
“The problem is they do have the infrastructure and the systems in place to be able to track all these keystrokes… that on its own is a huge problem.
Leading computer scientist and co-founder of Systems Approach Bruce Davie claimed that this kind of app behaviour reduced users’ trust in online shopping. “It’s alarming to see how much information can be tracked that people aren’t aware of–including potentially any user interaction with a website,” Mr Davie said.
“The issue appears widespread, with tracking code observed in the apps of Facebook and Instagram as well as TikTok.” TikTok acknowledged the code’s presence and insisted that the injected code was not being used to harvest user data.
“We do not collect keystroke or text inputs through this code, which is solely used for debugging, troubleshooting, and performance monitoring,” a TikTok spokesperson said. It is impossible to confirm whether the data is being gathered or used.
“Those [data tracking abilities] should not end up in the final version of the app that has been used by millions of people,” Mr Krause said. “While we can only guess at the motives of the companies involved, we know they use tracking to drive ad-targeting and to increase user engagement on their platforms,” Mr Davie said.
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