January 20, 2022

New Research Article: “App vs. Website: Which Best Protects Your Privacy? It Depends”

From Northeastern University:

In par­tic­ular, the team inves­ti­gated the degree to which each plat­form leaks per­son­ally iden­ti­fi­able information—ranging from birth­dates and loca­tions to passwords—to the adver­tisers and data ana­lytics com­pa­nies that the ser­vices rely on to help finance their operations.

The answer? “It depends,” says [assistant professor David] Choffnes, a mobile sys­tems expert in the Col­lege of Com­puter and Infor­ma­tion Sci­ence. “We expected that apps would leak more iden­ti­fiers because apps have more direct access to that infor­ma­tion. And overall that’s true. But we found that typ­i­cally apps leak just one more iden­ti­fier than a web­site for the same ser­vice. In fact, we found that in 40 per­cent of cases web­sites leak more types of infor­ma­tion than apps.”

The researchers will present their find­ings in a paper at the 2016 Internet Mea­sure­ment Con­fer­ence, in Santa Monica, Cal­i­fornia, in November.

The team’s aim is to help users make informed deci­sions about how best to access online ser­vices. To that end, they have inte­grated their find­ings into an easy-​​to-​​use inter­ac­tive web­site that rates the degree of leak­i­ness of 50 free online ser­vices, from Airbnb to Zillow, based on each user’s pri­vacy preferences.

Read the Complete News Article

Direct to Full Text Research/Conference Paper Discussed in Article: Should You Use the App for That?: Comparing the Privacy Implications of App- and Web-based Online Services (8 pages; PDF)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.