Hey app, did you just send my personal data or my phone's unique electronic identification number over the internet without my permission? Federal prosecutors in New Jersey are trying to answer this question in an ongoing investigation, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The federal probe aims to discover if any apps built for iOS, Android or other smartphones are illegally collecting or transmitting personally identifying information, such as the phone's unique device identifier (UDID), to app makers or third parties without consent from end users. Gathering information that can be used to personally identify an individual without adequately disclosing what data will be collected and how it will be used could violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act designed to prosecute hackers.
The investigation, which could continue for months, appears to be in a preliminary phase. In a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday, the online music service Pandora revealed it had been "served with a subpoena to produce documents in connection with a federal grand jury, which we believe was convened to investigate the information sharing processes of certain popular applications that run on the Apple and Android mobile platforms." The Oakland, CA, company added that it's "not a specific target of the investigation" and believes the subpoenas were issued "on an industry-wide basis to the publishers of numerous other smartphone applications."