Third Party Tracking in the Mobile Ecosystem

TitleThird Party Tracking in the Mobile Ecosystem
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsBinns, R., U. Lyngs, M. Van Kleek, J. Zhao, T. Libert, and N. Shadbolt
Conference NameProceedings of the 10th International ACM Web Science Conference 2018
Conference LocationAmsterdam
Keywordsandroid, behavioural advertising, data protection, mobile, privacy, static analysis, tracking

Third party tracking allows companies to identify users and track
their behaviour across multiple digital services. This paper presents
an empirical study of the prevalence of third-party trackers on
959,000 apps from the US and UK Google Play stores. We find that
most apps contain third party tracking, and the distribution of trackers
is long-tailed with several highly dominant trackers accounting
for a large portion of the coverage. The extent of tracking also differs
between categories of apps; in particular, news apps and apps
targeted at children appear to be amongst the worst in terms of the
number of third party trackers associated with them. Third party
tracking is also revealed to be a highly trans-national phenomenon,
with many trackers operating in jurisdictions outside the EU. Based
on these findings, we draw out some significant legal compliance
challenges facing the tracking industry

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