Many people enjoy online shopping; it is simple and hassle-free; plus we can purchase products without leaving our own homes. While this trend has become more mainstream, some consumers may still have concerns regarding privacy and security issues when making these purchases online.
Not all shopping apps are created equal; when installing apps without first considering their privacy policies, apps could potentially collect more data from your smartphone than you realize - be it personal or professional use. Your data and privacy could both be at stake.
SHEIN: Data Collection Practices of Popular Shopping App SHEIN
Security experts recently found a popular app that was spying on copy-and-paste activity of users as well as keystrokes, screenshots and GPS locations of its users - raising serious privacy issues with regard to online shopping apps in general. This begs the question if online shopping applications intrude on user privacy?
SHEIN, the shopping app under scrutiny, boasts millions of users. Researchers discovered that it was collecting data from clipboards; researchers believe the app could access any text copied and pasted by users onto clipboards; any sensitive information like credit card numbers or passwords could also be accessible by the app if copied from user clipboards and pasted directly.
SHEIN was also designed to track users' GPS locations. Furthermore, its sensors like accelerometers and gyroscopes collected data that enabled it to track movement while collecting user usage statistics on devices. Furthermore, users could upload movements data directly into SHEIN for tracking as well as providing insight into device use patterns.
Developers of other apps have utilized an equally vague explanation. Their developers claimed that collected data would only be used internally; however, this wasn't sufficient for privacy experts who expressed grave concern over its practices in collecting information.
Temu Data Collection Practices Investigated
Temu's data collection practices have come under scrutiny recently, after it was found stealing user information without their knowledge and storing it for advertising purposes. Many popular apps collect this type of user data as part of their revenue-generation.
Temu, a shopping app, has seen its popularity soar since being featured in a Superbowl Ad in 2023. Since then, its use has continued to gain ground.
Temu, another shopping app which gathers personal data in questionable ways, collects data such as:
- Name, Address and telephone number
- Entering details such as birthday, photos, and social profiles into a spreadsheet.
- Version of Operating System and Model Number.
- Locate your GPS position and IP Address (if enabled).
- Your Browsing Data
Looking to protect your privacy when using apps for online shopping? Here are a few suggestions:
How to protect your privacy when shopping apps
Before downloading an app, always read its privacy policies in detail to get a clear picture of what data are collected and used. To save time searching keywords such as "collect" or "your data", this shortcut allows you to quickly reach details regarding data collection.
Before downloading an app, take the time to read its terms and conditions carefully. It could convince you it is not worth investing your data into such apps after learning how much information they store.
Turn Off Sharing Features
In your phone settings, disabling any unneeded sharing features (for instance location services). Most smartphones allow you to select which apps you would like installed and used.
You can restrict data sharing by changing both the settings on your phone and in the app.
Remove Unwanted Apps
It is wise to uninstall apps you no longer use from your phone if they are no longer being actively utilized, as unused applications could potentially be collecting information about your browsing activity and/or other apps on the phone without even being actively utilized by you. Unused applications pose a risk, collecting data even if not in use and even collecting personal information from you or third-party apps that collect it.
Search Apps Before Download It can be easy to be taken in by trends. Your friend raved about a certain app and you want to give it a try, but before making this leap it pays to conduct research first and check its security and data collection capabilities before installing any that could put your data and activity at risk. Before taking this leap educate yourself as best you can.
Instead of Shopping Apps
By opting to purchase products through websites instead of shopping apps, you can reduce the risks of data collection by these apps. Most reputable companies have websites where you can buy identical products as would if using an app.
Increase Your Mobile Device Security
Mobile devices are becoming more frequently used than computers, yet lack sufficient protection from cybercrime. Get in touch with us now so we can arrange a discussion about safeguarding the data on your mobile devices.