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Recent research has shed light on the privacy practices of the most popular shopping apps and websites, revealing a concerning trend. A comprehensive analysis of their privacy policies indicates that a staggering three-quarters of these platforms either share or sell sensitive customer information with third parties. This revelation comes from a new report by Atlas VPN, which scrutinized 60 of the most widely used shopping apps and their corresponding profiles on Google Play.

Key Findings:

  1. Extent of User Data Sharing:
    • A significant 75% of the examined shopping apps engage in the sharing or selling of user data without explicit user consent.
  2. Types of Shared Information:
    • 58% of these apps share critical personal details, including names, email addresses, phone numbers, and home addresses, with third parties willing to pay for such information.
    • 37% divulge financial data, such as payment details and purchase history.
    • 28% disclose users’ location data.
    • 25% share device IDs or unique information about smartphones or tablets.
  3. Targeted Advertising as a Motive:
    • The recipients of the shared data are typically companies seeking to leverage this information for targeted advertising purposes.

 

Here are the Worst Offenders:

1. Ebay

Topping the list as the worst offender, eBay shares a staggering 28 user data points.

2. Amazon

Following closely, Amazon shares 25 data points, contributing significantly to the data-sharing concern.

3. Afterpay

The buy-now, pay-later app, Afterpay, ranks third by sharing 22 data points, including the surprising sharing of credit scores with third parties.

4. Beyond the Top Three:

Commonalities Among Others:

Beyond the top three, many other apps fall within a similar range, sharing between 21 and 18 data points. Notable names in this category include Nike, Home Depot, Wayfair, and Craigslist.

5. An Exception to the Trend: Kohl’s

Kohl’s stands out as the only app among the 60 surveyed that refrains from sharing any user data.

Protecting Yourself:

  • Read Privacy Policies:

    • Experts recommend taking the time to read the privacy policy of the app you are using to understand the extent of data sharing before engaging with the platform.
  • Disable Sharing Options:

    • Users are advised to disable sharing options, such as location sharing, to exert more control over the information they disclose.
  • Delete Unused Apps:

    • Deleting unused apps is a prudent practice, as many of them continue to collect data even when not actively in use.