Apps snooped on users
Twenty-five app operators, including TripAdvisor, Ele.me, Baidu Nuomi, Gewara and Qyer, have been found to unnecessarily require permission to access users' personal information, the Shanghai Consumer Council said on Wednesday.
They had been asking for users' permission to acquire sensitive personal information that was irrelevant to the need of the app.
The council tested 39 cellphone apps, covering online shopping, tourism and life services, for personal information requirements.
Among them, 25 had bad practices, with nine still failing to rectify the problems as of March 23, the council said.
Among these apps, 73 percent of life service platforms unnecessarily required personal data. The figure was 64 percent for travel websites, and 67 percent for online shopping sites.
The nine were online food delivery website Ele.me, Jumei, a Chinese online retailer of beauty products, travel websites Qyer and TripAdvisor, online ticketing website Gewara, eHi and CAR Inc, two car rental companies, group purchase website Beibei and online platform Baidu Nuomi.
They required permissions to read phone records, short messages, recordings, dial users' phones, monitor calls dialed by users, and read contacts.
"Such data is unnecessary to the functioning of these apps," said Tang Jiansheng, deputy secretary-general of the council.
Car Inc required users' permission to make recordings, dial users' phones and monitor users' calls, while Qyer asked for permission to read contacts of users and dial users' phones.
TripAdvisor asked for permission for dialing users' phones, while Ele.me required the permission for reading phone records.
Ele.me said it had deleted the permission.
Gewara was found to ask for permission to send short messages to users, read contact information and make recording.
The others, such as Meituan, Tmall, Suning Yigou, Tongcheng, Lvmama and yhd.com have all removed irrelevant permissions, according to the council.
"Personal information is an emerging problem with the mushrooming cellphone apps and has been a major concern of consumers," said Tao Ailian, secretary-general of the council.
Website operators are banned from collecting irrelevant personal information.