Android App Warns When You're Being Watched

Prof. Janne Lindqvist's work appeared in MIT Technology Review:

Prof. Janne Lindqvist, a recently appointed assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, member of WINLAB and director of the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory, led a team to build an app to give Android smartphone users prominent warnings when apps are tracking their location. This work, "A Field Study of Run-Time Location Access Disclosures on Android Smartphones" is part of a NSF-funded project for which Prof. Janne Lindqvist is the Principal Investigator.


The paper will be formally published in the proceedings of USEC'14 in February 2014. The leading student author for the work is Huiqing Fu, an ECE PhD student advised by Prof. Lindqvist.


The motivation for the study was that smartphone users are increasingly using apps that can access their location. Often these accesses can be without users knowledge and consent. For example, recent research has shown that installation-time capability disclosures are ineffective in informing people about their app's location access.

The group's results confirm that the Android platform's location access disclosure method does not inform participants effectively.

Almost all participants pointed out that their location was accessed by several apps they would have not expected to access their location. Further, several apps accessed their location more frequently than they expected.

From MIT Tech Review the story has so far been picked up by big sites such as Yahoo! Tech on their front page:
and a number of other smaller sites.

See also

Please contact Prof. Janne Lindqvist at for any further questions.