Surveillance

US firm accused of secretly installing location tracking SDK in mobile apps

Reportedly, a US government contractor ‘Anomaly Six’ has location tracking software hidden in more than 500 mobile apps.

 

A report from the Wall Street Journal revealed an upsetting development pertaining to mobile phone tracking. According to a report, a US-based company called Anomaly Six has strong ties with national security agencies that deploy a software development kit (SDK) in over 500 mobile applications that are used by hundreds and thousands of citizens.

Through this, they are able to track movement or obtain the phone’s location with discretion.

The Virginia based company, Anomaly Six was founded by two US military veterans whose previous work experience resided in working closely with government agencies, mainly intelligence. The article mentions:

“Anomaly Six is a veteran-owned small business that processes and visualizes location data sourced from mobile devices for analytics and insights.”

 

However, the company is now drawing watchful eyes pertaining to its operations. But they claim that they are simply leveraging commercially available location data, lawfully.

“We leverage detailed location data from numerous first-party sources to provide insights into groups, behaviors, and patterns.”

Despite claims, Anomaly six’s website has no implications whatsoever about the SDK in their privacy policy nor do the mobile applications using the SDK ensue any connotation. Even if the smartphone user decides to dive into action and read service agreements published by popular applications in question, it would be a total waste of time. The apps do not mention anything related to Anomaly Six tracking software or their partnership.

If it’s any consolation, the data collected by the company is rather anonymous. Every smartphone has an alphanumeric identifier that links it to the name of the owner. But here is the catch, the ‘anonymity’ could still easily be used to figure out who owns the device.



 

Not only this but once an SDK deployed application has permission to track your phone’s location then the agencies can easily figure out user habits too which is literally privacy intrusion. This also suggests that the ‘movement tracking’ could be collected and sold to national security agencies without any hindrance.

More so, the app’s deploying SDK in question has a financial incentive in this. The developers basically have a deal with Anomaly Six, paving the way to a lucrative revenue stream. Even if the application is free to use, the in-app purchases are an easy way to trap customers for longer devious pursuits.

Nevertheless, Anomaly Six claims that they will support regulations and encourage disclosure by mobile apps regarding data collection. The company declined to comment or name mobile applications in question citing confidentiality agreements.

 

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