Use Clueful to Find Out if Your Favorite App is Collecting Your Personal Data

Clueful is a handy webapp that can help you identify what information your apps are collecting. The app was created by the security company  Bitdefender, but was removed by Apple from the app store in July of 2012. Since then, Bitdefender has been offering Clueful as a standalone webapp.

Apple’s app store is known to remove malicious apps, though it seems dubious to select an app that offers something the app store doesn’t – privacy clarity. Unlike Google Play, the app store does not clearly define privacy information for each app. This webapp version of Clueful is the easiest and fastest way to see what kind of data each app is siphoning from your phone.

Apple’s choice to remove the app is disconcerting given the latest privacy controversy with Path and Google. Path was collecting entire address book data from users and storing the information on its servers – all without users’ consent. One user noted that the practice of collecting users’ data was completely antithetical to its stated privacy policy:

What Personal Information Do We Collect?

We actively collect certain information you voluntarily provide to us, such as when you create an account and profile, send us an email or post information or other content to our site.

We automatically collect certain information when you use our site and our services, such as your Internet Protocol (IP) address, your operating system, the browser type, the address of a referring site and your activity on our site. We treat this information as personal information if we combine it with or link it to any of the identifying information mentioned above. Otherwise, it is used in the aggregate only.

We may also automatically collect certain information through the use of “cookies” or web beacons.

Path has agreed to pay 800,000 for its privacy misconduct. Likewise in 2012, Google agreed to pay the FTC 22.5 million for tracking users on Safari. The company was overriding the default settings on Safari in order to optimize ads according users’ recent web activities. Delta Airlines has also been sued by the state of California for not having any privacy policy for its Fly Delta app.

These suits may give fair warning to companies, but it does not actually protect consumers from future data misappropriation. Until the US creates a more comprehensive privacy law like the EU, users should use apps like Clueful while paying close attention to the fine print.