Free apps ‘can spy on texts and calls’

“Daniel Rosenfield, director of app company Sun Products, said selling on the information was far more lucrative than charging for the app. He said: ‘The revenue you get from selling your apps doesn’t touch the revenue you get from giving your apps away for free and just loading them with advertisements.'”

Companies are using free smartphone apps as ‘fronts’ to allow them to spy on users’ text messages, intercept calls and even track their location, it was claimed yesterday.

By accepting little-read terms and conditions when downloading apps, consumers give developers the right to harvest vast swathes of private information.

Facebook insists that people using its Android smartphone app agree to give them permission to read their text messages, although the internet giant said it had not yet taken advantage of this right.

Social media sites Flickr and Yahoo! are also alleged to read text messages via their apps, while apps from smaller companies allow them to extract private details about users’ lives. They can even remotely take images from users’ handset cameras and even dial their phone and intercept calls without them knowing.

Privacy campaigners criticised the abuse of personal information. Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, described the apps market as ‘an unregulated Wild West’.

Emma Draper, of the Privacy International campaign group, said: ‘Your personal information is a precious commodity, and companies will go to great lengths to get their hands on as much of it as possible.’

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