Editor's Note: A representative from Hiya called our attention for some clarifications regarding our previous report. Here are the details that we need to know about Hiya.

STORY UPDATED:

  1. Hiya technology powers Samsung Smart Call. The service protects users from phone spam and identifies unknown callers.
  2. A Samsung user must opt-in to the service. The steps are clearly shown on Hiya's website and work in reverse with a simple toggle: https://www.hiya.com/products-smart-call.
  3. If a user does not opt-in or subsequently opts out, Hiya does not collect their data.

Furthermore, the data Hiya collects - when allowed by the user - are used only for improving the service. Hiya does not sell any of the information it collects. 

Android users, beware. A recent study just found out that even if you opt out of user data collection, Android phones can still track their users.

Android logo phone
(Photo : Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Android logo displayed on a phone screen is seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on September 30, 2021.

The study, which was headed by researchers from the Trinity College in Dublin and the University of Edinburgh, has found that Android phones would keep pinging back data to OS developers and several third parties with barely any configuration out of the box, reports Gizmodo.

This is even after a user has done their due diligence of deleting snoopy apps, opting out of user tracking by denying permission, and following almost every privacy guide.

According to the researchers, they looked closely at the data sharing methods of Android phones manufactured by well-known brands, such as Samsung, Huawei, and Xiaomi.

System apps are likely the main culprit for this, says the study. That's because these apps always come pre-installed, with no way for users to delete them from Android without rooting the device.

Almost every system app is often stored by Android phones in their read only memory (ROM), which can only be accessed by rooting the phone.

The paper itself is available online, for those who want to do further reading.

Android devices have had a long history of privacy issues, which is why the release of Android 12 has been met with such anticipation. The new version of Google's OS brought with it a lot of privacy changes, headlined by a dedicated Privacy Dashboard, reports The Verge.

Read also: How Much Data Does The World Really Have? The Numbers Will SHOCK You

Where Is The Data Being Sent?

As per the study, the "misbehaving apps" turned out to be the usual suspects embedded in the Android OS.

The researchers grouped up the apps which they found were sending data according to manufacturer, and where it is they're sending the data to. For example, Samsung phones are sending the data they secretly collect to Google, Mobile Operator, LinkedIn, and Microsoft.

Xiaomi phones, on the other hand, send data to the users' mobile operators, as well as Facebook and even Xiaomi itself.

Android and Privacy Issues: Not an Isolated Incident

It's not just Android that has these problems. Apple is no stranger to this as well.

Apple store
(Photo : Shi Shuai / Costfoto/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - OCTOBER 6, 2021 - Customers buy iphone 13 at night at an Apple store in Xidan Commercial Street in Beijing, China, Oct. 6, 2021.

Even with the recent privacy update to iOS 14.5, it was found that users who opt out of data collection were still being given the same amount of it as previous. Furthermore, it was found that thousands of apps were still collecting data after app tracking was denied, as reported by the Financial Times.

As a result, users might be very surprised with just how much Apple knows about them, based solely on the massive amounts of information being collected. This could be the explanation as to why you're still getting targeted ads despite choosing options such as "never show this ad."

What Now?

Until Android fixes this problem, it's going to remain. For now, if you own an Android phone, you must be even more careful if you want to maintain your digital privacy.

Related Article: Apple iPhone Warns Users How Much Data Google Maps is Actually Collecting

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Written by RJ Pierce

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