As in the browser context, mobile app developers use third-party services to add features to their apps such as analytics, user tracking, ad delivery and social network integration. While these services are valuable to app developers, they may also collect and share personal information about users. In fact, these services can access sensitive information by piggybacking on the permissions requested by the app developer and granted by the user.
Unfortunately, these interactions with third-party services typically happen without any user awareness or consent.
The research community and the regulatory bodies do not have a broad understanding of the players’ identities and the information that they collect. In this project we will investigate the third-party service ecosystem and its dynamics at scale. Our methods leverage data from ICSI’s Haystack app. The results of our analysis will increase transparency by creating a public catalog and census of analytics services, their behavior, and their use across mobile apps.