European Commission VP slams Android security

Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission, has slammed Google's Android OS after a Channel 4 News report found that many of the top free apps in the Android Market were mining personal data of users of and passing it on to advertisers.

Channel 4 News commissioned MWR Infosecurity to investigate these rogue apps and it reported: "We found that a lot of the free applications in the top 50 apps list are using advertising inside the applications and that the permission that you grant to these applications is also granted to the advertiser.

"If users knew about this I think they would be concerned about it but at the moment I don't think they are aware of the situation and how widely their information can be used."

MWR found code relating to a US advertising network called MobClix and stated the guilty apps were providing access to contacts, calendar and locations.

Reding said: "This really concerns me, and this is against the law because nobody has the right to get your personal data without you agreeing to this. Maybe you want somebody to get this data and agree and it's fine. You're an adult and you can do whatever you want.

"But normally you have no idea what others are doing with your data. They are spotting you, they are following you, they are getting information about your friends, about your whereabouts, about your preferences.

"That is certainly not what you thought you bought into when you downloaded a free of charge app. That's exactly what we have to change."

The news comes just a month or so after Google decided to streamline its privacy settings ahead of big changes from the EU and just weeks after it was accused of tricking iPhone and Mac Safari surfers.