App Privacy and Controls

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Research into privacy, security, and information controls of popular applications.

Latest Research

Installing Fear: A Canadian Legal and Policy Analysis of Using, Developing, and Selling Smartphone Spyware and Stalkerware Applications

This report provides an in-depth legal and policy analysis of technology-facilitated intimate partner surveillance (IPS) under Canadian law. Stalkerware apps are designed to facilitate remote surveillance of an individual’s mobile device use with the surveillance often being covert or advertised as such. Despite increasing recognition of the prevalence of technology-enabled intimate partner abuse and harassment, the legality of the creation, sale, and use of consumer-level spyware apps has not yet been closely considered by Canadian courts, legislators, or regulators.

The Predator in Your Pocket: A Multidisciplinary Assessment of the Stalkerware Application Industry

This report was collaboratively written by researchers from computer science, political science, criminology, law, and journalism studies. As befits their expertise, the report is divided into several parts, with each focusing on specific aspects of the consumer spyware ecosystem, which includes: technical elements associated stalkerware applications, stalkerware companies’ marketing activities and public policies, and these companies’ compliance with Canadian federal commercial privacy legislation.

Fit Leaking: Citizen Lab Research on Fitness Tracker Privacy

The post covers several categories of information that can be gleaned from examining Strava’s fitness tracker data, ranging from enabling the identification of secret military facilities in “dark areas” to specific identifiable behaviour patterns of at-risk individuals.

Secure Your Chats: Why Encrypted Messaging Matters

End-to-end encrypted messaging is effective at protecting the content of your messages from being read as they travel across the Internet to your friends and family. This is why the Citizen Lab has released Secure Your Chats: a Net Alert resource that outlines how to safely use end-to-end encryption.

Safer Without: Korean Child Monitoring and Filtering Apps

South Korea requires minors to have content filtering apps installed on their phones. A security audit of two child monitoring apps—Cyber Security Zone and Smart Dream—finds serious security and privacy issues that put children at risk.

Analysis of End-to-End Encryption in LINE

Researchers from the University of New Mexico and the Citizen Lab provide the first independent analysis of popular messaging app LINE’s end-to-end encryption security features and discuss gaps in communication between researchers, developers and users.

不能说的秘密:新浪微博和微信上被过滤的“709追捕”

本报告属于多伦多大学蒙克全球事物学院公民实验室对微信和新浪微博信息审查的研究系列。通过一系列测试,研究者发现了在这两个平台上被审查过滤的与“709追捕”相关的关键词和图片。与公民实验室过去的研究结果相同,审查以不透明的形式进行。

We (can’t) Chat: “709 Crackdown” Discussions Blocked on Weibo and WeChat

This report analyzes the information control practices related to a national crackdown on Chinese rights lawyers and activists on two leading Chinese social media networks. We document the Search filtering on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service, as well as keyword and image censorship on WeChat, the most popular chat app in China.