When we talk about apps “spying” on you, your thoughts might immediately turn to malware, keyloggers, and the like. That’s ignoring the far more likely scenario of legit apps collecting maybe more information on you than they admit to, or sharing it with business partners that you may be unaware of. It’s these methods of gathering information that US federal prosecutors may be interested in, as we’re finding out about a series of subpoenas going out to smartphone app developers.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Pandora, among other companies, has received a subpoena requesting information about how it shares user information in gathers from you as you use its app. The federal prosecutor out of New Jersey who issued the subpoena apparently isn’t targeting Pandora for any investigation of wrongdoing, but is surveying the whole industry to get an idea of what current privacy practices are like.
While the feds haven’t made any public statements as to what they’re up to, the WSJ has a source who says that this action is looking into violations of federal computer-fraud laws regarding private data being passed on to advertisers. Just who the targets are isn’t clear yet, but it seems like a very wide net is being cast, looking for violators. We expect to hear more about this investigation as more subpoenas are issued and when any charges are finally filed.