Mark Allman / ICSI @mallman_icsi

Abbas Razaghpanah, Rishab Nithyanand, Narseo Vallina-Rodriguez, Srikanth Sundaresan, Mark Allman, Christian Kreibich, Phillipa Gill. Apps, Trackers, Privacy and Regulators: A Global Study of the Mobile Tracking Ecosystem. Network and Distributed System Security Symposium, February 2018. To appear.


Third-party services form an integral part of the mobile ecosystem: they ease application development and enable the inclusion of features such as analytics, social network integration, and monetization. However, these services can also be used to track users. Aided by the general opacity of mobile systems such services are also largely invisible to users. This state of affairs has negative consequences for user privacy---in particular, third-party services can potentially track users without their consent, even across multiple applications.

With real-world data gathered by the Lumen, a privacy-sensitive app with the ability to analyze network traffic on mobile devices in real time, we present insights into the mobile advertising and tracking ecosystems. In this study, we develop automated techniques to detect third-party advertising and tracking services. Using this technique we identify 598 such services, of which 224 were previously unknown to other popular advertising and tracking blacklists. We then uncover the business relationships between the providers of these services and characterize them by their prevalence in the mobile and Web ecosystem and their privacy policies. Finally, we seek to quantitatively identify the services likely to be most impacted by upcoming and current privacy regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation, ePrivacy directive, and the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act on the operators of these services.


    author    =     "Abbas Razaghpanah and Rishab Nithyanand and Narseo Vallina-Rodriguez and Srikanth Sundaresan and Mark Allman and Christian Kreibich and Phillipa Gill",
    title     =     "{Apps, Trackers, Privacy and Regulators: A Global Study of the Mobile Tracking Ecosystem}",
    booktitle =     "Network and Distributed System Security Symposium",
    year      =     2018,
    month     =     feb,
    note      =     "To appear",
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