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New study says your phone spies on you, just not in the way you think
Researchers from Northeastern University set out to find whether your phone is actively listening to you and sending audio clips to advertisers. - photo by Herb Scribner
Yes, your phone is spying on you.

Weve all been there. Youre talking with a friend about a specific product, and then, when you check your phone, an ad for that product pops up on your phone. Seems a little too close for comfort, right?

Researchers from Northeastern University set out to find if your phone is actively listening to you and sending audio clips to advertisers.

Thankfully, the researchers found phones dont record your conversations and send them to advertisers.

However, according to Business Insider, phones do spy on you, in a specific way.

The researchers found no instance in which these apps turned on the phones microphone unprompted and sent audio. But they did find that some apps were sending screen recordings and screenshots to third parties, according to Business Insider.

The survey reviewed 17,260 Android apps to see what kind of media files were sent from those apps.

Our study reveals several alarming privacy risks in the Android app ecosystem, including apps that over-provision their media permissions and apps that share image and video data with other parties in unexpected ways, without user knowledge or consent," the researchers said. "We also identify a previously unreported privacy risk that arises from third-party libraries that record and upload screenshots and videos of the screen without informing the user. This can occur without needing any permissions from the user.

These apps will monitor habits of phone users and then send those habits to third-party app developers and advertisers.

As Gizmodo pointed out, the delivery app GoPuff will monitor user interaction and send those findings to Appsee, a mobile analytics company.

GoPuff didnt include that information in its privacy policy until the company received questions about it.

According to BGR, the researchers dont dismiss the possibility of your phone listening to you, though.

We should also add the Northeastern researchers didnt fully debunk the whole eavesdropping thing. Its just that they didnt find evidence of it happening, which is not the same thing, BGR reported.

So it looks like the researchers developed an entirely new worry for phone users.

So by attempting to debunk one conspiracy theory, researchers were able to create a situation primed for another one to take its place, according to The Verge. And without easily recognizable disclosures from companies that your screen may be recorded, this new theory may persist just as strongly as the one the researchers were sick of hearing about.