eBay and Amazon collect the most user data among Android shopping apps
As Black Friday and the holiday shopping season approaches, many are turning to phones and tablets to search for deals and make purchases online. To prepare for the busiest online shopping season of the year, it is important to understand how your data is being used on popular apps.
According to the research by the Atlas VPN team, eBay and Amazon Shopping collect the most user data out of the analyzed Android apps. eBay gathers 28 data points, while Amazon collects 25 data points spanning 11 data types, including personal, financial, and location data.
Data points, such as name, phone number, payment method, and precise location, are also grouped into broader data types.
For this report, the Atlas VPN team analyzed the Google Play app profiles of 60 popular Android apps within the shopping category. The apps were ranked based on how many user information data points they collect.
The apps for analysis were picked from App Figures’ top Android shopping application charts for 2023. The analyzed apps encompass a mix of shopping, reselling, buy now and pay later, and discount offer apps.
The "buy now, pay later" app Afterpay occupies the third spot, collecting 22 data points across 7 data types. Notably, Afterpay is the only app found not only to collect but also to share in-app messages, emails, SMS messages, and credit scores with third parties — concerning privacy practices, given the sensitive information involved.
Home improvement retailer Lowe's, health retailer iHerb, and secondhand marketplace Vinted each collect 21 data points. Similarly, home improvement giant Home Depot and Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba.com both gather 20 data points across 9 data types. The secondhand shopping app Poshmark also collects significant user information at 19 data points within 7 categories.
Nike, OfferUp, Wayfair, craigslist, ASOS, and H&M apps round out the top 15 list with 18 data points each. Out of all 60 apps analyzed, the Kohl’s app, belonging to the department store retail chain, stands out for not collecting any data on users
3 out of 4 apps share your data
The privacy issues with Android shopping apps extend far beyond data collection. As mobile shopping grows more popular by the year, consumers may not realize just how much of their data is being passed around behind the scenes.
Out of the 60 analyzed apps, 75% share your data with third parties. Not all collected and shared data types pose a serious threat to your privacy. For instance, app activity and app info and performance data types, shared by 52% and 38% of apps, respectively, are typically used to improve user experience.
Nevertheless, 58% of shopping apps were found to share personal information with third parties, such as your name, email address, phone number, or even your home address.
Moreover, device or other IDs are shared with third parties by 52% of the apps. A device ID is a unique string of numbers and letters used to identify every smartphone or tablet in the world and serves as a digital fingerprint.
More than a third (37%) of apps also reveal financial information to third parties, including payment information and purchase history. Additionally, 28% of shopping apps share precise or approximate location.
Even photos and videos are exchanged with third parties by 18% of the apps. Some apps (7%) go as far as to share in-app and SMS messages or emails. Health and fitness information was found to be shared by 2 apps, while files and docs, audio, contacts, or web browsing data each shared by 1 app.
In today’s digital age, your personal information is being extensively collected by apps and shared with countless firms. This holiday season, approach all apps aware your data is being collected. Take the time to carefully read privacy policies, be mindful of the permissions you grant, and prioritize safe shopping practices to safeguard your personal information.