📑 How SDKs, hidden trackers in your phone, work

Bookmarked How SDKs, hidden trackers in your phone, work by Sara Morrison (Wired)

It feels impossible to get anything done right now. Here’s how to keep your head above water—without falling into the busy trap.

Sarah Morrison digs into the way in which APIs and SDK kits provide the framework for tracking.

SDKs themselves are not trackers, but they are the means through which most tracking through mobile apps occurs. Simply put, an SDK is a package of tools that helps an app function in some way. Apple and Android offer operating system SDKs so developers can build their apps for their respective devices, and third parties offer SDKs that allow developers to add certain features to those apps quickly and with minimal effort.

If you do not want to engage with the inherent tracking, Morrison provides some possible strategies:

If you don’t want to simply trust that a location data firm, data broker, or ad company has your best privacy interests at heart, there are things you can do to prevent your information from getting out there. Apple and Android now give device owners the option to limit ad tracking, so you can do that if you haven’t already. You can also limit ad tracking on services like Facebook, Google, and Twitter. If an app asks for permission to use a device feature such as your location, only agree to it if it’s something you really need, and only turn location services on when you’re using them. And read the privacy policies on the apps you download to get the best possible sense of whether they’re sharing your data and whom they’re sharing it with, and opt out of sharing with data location companies where possible — X-Mode and Cuebiq both offer ways to do this directly. Most privacy experts believe it’s impossible to truly stop tracking on these devices and through their apps, but this should at least reduce it.

The future of tracking is still somewhat unknown. Although users may not want such infiltration, it is still a significant part in regards to the funding of platform capitalism.

In a related piece, Owen Williams suggests that we need to rebrand cookies as the data trackers that they are.

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