Samsung smartphones are secretly spying on users, report claims

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Samsung are collecting data connected to users’ online activity, a new report claims.

The report suggested that the Korean manufacturer has integrated a technology known as ‘beacon’ which can collect information regarding specific content and potentially email messages.

Privacy watchdogs have accused Samsung of tricking users into agreeing to the use of beacons without knowing what they are.

Samsung has denied the allegations.

Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group, told The Sun that Samsung is becoming a “peeping Tom” and it is “taking spying on their customers to a whole new level.”

In Samsung’s privacy policy it states, “We, along with certain third parties, also may use technologies called beacons or pixels that communicate information from your device to a server.”

“We would like to assure our customers that ultrasonic beacon technology is not embedded on Samsung mobile devices. Our privacy policy on beacons applies to the use of web beacons, a technology that is widely used across the industry and differs significantly to that of ultrasonic beacons. There is no relation between ultrasonic beacons and the functions embedded in our mobile products,” Samsung says.

“If you’re not paying attention to the permissions you grant, you could be feeding marketers and other entities information about your online browsing, what stores you go to and your product preferences without realising it,” Tristan Liverpool, Director of Systems Engineering, F5 Networks, said.

Samsung are certainly not the only company to use beacons with Apple using similar technology on many of their services.

Apple however claim that they do not share data with any third parties and IP addresses are kept secret.

The news comes after some of the world’s best known brands were found to be using the controversial beacons in their mobile apps.

The apps, from brands such as McDonald’s and Krispy Kreme, were found to be tracking users in the Philippines.

The app are designed to pick up ‘ultrasonic’ sounds, inaudible to the human ear.

The technology works by listening out for signals from the audio in TV adverts. The signals are so high pitched that they are inaudible to human ears.

When the apps hear the signal it then starts tracking information on the user such as their location and what they are watching on TV.

The information gathered then enables companies to specifically target users with advertisements.

Last month, Google said it banned apps which used the ultrasonic tracking technology to spy on users.

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