Androids Almost Always Forward Data to Third Parties

Researchers find that devices from Samsung, Xiaomi and Huawei, among others, share data with their manufacturer, even with minimal configuration, but also with apps such as Facebook if they are pre-installed.


It concerns research from the University of Edinburgh and Trinity College Dublin. It compared seven Android versions, those from Samsung, Xiaomi, Huawei, Realme, Google itself and LineageOS and /e/OS, two Android fork focusing on longer support and less Google integration.

The conclusion is clear: except for/e/OS, they all forward data to Google and with the exception of /e/OS and LineageOS, they all forward data to third parties such as Microsoft or Facebook. Especially Samsung, Xiaomi and Huawei seem to be the most fierce in this of the versions examined.

This often concerns apps that are pre-installed by the device maker itself. But even when they are not used, data is being forwarded to those apps. Sometimes this is about unique identifiers (IMEI, hardware serial numbers, identifiers), sometimes about which apps are installed. You can read the full study here.

The researchers state that it is also quite difficult to make yourself anonymous again. For example, anyone who resets advertising identifiers from their Google account on Android will be re-identified because a new ID can be linked to the same hardware.

The tracking by Google and the manufacturer itself does receive some nuance from Google. A spokesperson for the company told BleepingComputer that it concerns data that is often important for the device, such as sending push notifications or sending the correct software updates to the correct device.

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