A new study has has shown that the privacy policies of a large number of Android apps on the Google Play Store contain contradictions when it comes to how they collect user data.
In an effort to better understand the language used in the privacy policies of popular apps, researchers created a tool called PrivacyLint which they used to analyze the privacy policies of 11,430 Play Store apps. They found that just over 14 percent (1,618 apps) of apps have privacy policies with logical contradicting statements about data collection.
For example, some of the privacy policies stated in one section that they do not collect personal data, though in subsequent sections they went on to contradict themselves by stating that they collect emails or customer names, both of which are personally-identifiable information.
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Auto-generated privacy policies
The research team was unable to determine why app makers used contradictory statements in their privacy polices but some of them believe the end goal is to mislead any users that actually take the time to read the policies
Unfortunately though, the vast majority of other privacy policies were unique to each app and were not created using online services. In these cases, the app makers are susceptible to fines from privacy watchdogs in the EU and US, according to the research team.
In order to verify the accuracy of the PolicyLint tool, the researchers took a sample of 510 privacy policies with contradictory statements and then verified them manually. Of these 510 apps, the team found contact emails for 260 developers and emailed them about their findings. However, only 11 responded back and just three developers corrected their privacy policies to remove the contradictions.