More than half of the top 60 Android shopping apps collect users’ personal information through trackers, a new study finds.

Opera Max's privacy assessment of shopping apps

The result is from a privacy risk assessment on Opera Max, a leading data management and data savings app for Android. The 60 most popular shopping apps were reviewed using privacy mode on this app. Another research shows that personal information such as user’s name, email address, locations, search terms and phone number are shared with third parties through trackers.

The study also shows that as many as 96% of the shopping apps did not use full encryption to connect the apps to their servers. This poses privacy risks to mobile shoppers when they are using these apps.

Personal data can be shared with third parties through trackers on shopping apps or unencrypted http connections over mobile carrier connections. Sensitive data such as bank account numbers and other financial information, which are stored in online retailer accounts or shopping apps, can be intercepted and read by identity thieves via public or unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

96% of Android shopping apps do not use full encryption

“Most people would not reveal their credit card details or full name to employees of a physical store where they live when shopping and browsing for products. But, on mobile apps people are not aware that this kind of information can be shared,” says Sergey Lossev, Head of Product, Opera Max. “That is why we have implemented privacy mode in Opera Max. We want to educate our users by revealing which apps are sharing your data through trackers without your permission.”

New Opera Max enhances Android users’ privacy

Today, Opera Max brings its new privacy mode feature to all users. It offers real-time alerts on the privacy mode timeline so that users can easily see which apps are sending high-risk requests, thus putting their privacy at risk. Once Opera Max’s privacy mode is activated, it also encrypts virtually all app data traffic and blocks almost all types of data trackers to ensure users can shop with peace of mind.

“Once you know how many trackers and unsecured connection requests your apps have sent out, you may want to ensure all your app traffic is protected and encrypted by Opera Max. You can then protect your privacy when shopping. Just take a look at what your apps are doing and decide for yourself,” adds Lossev.

Learn more about Opera Max’s privacy mode by visiting our developer blog post.
Download the new Opera Max with privacy mode for free.

About the shopping privacy assessment

These results are from a test we have done on the 60 most popular shopping apps in ten countries, including Brazil, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Russia, South Africa, United States, United Kingdom and Vietnam. We tested them on Wi-Fi networks and made at least 100 requests within each app by browsing random products. Then we recorded the result based on what was shown on the timeline of Opera Max’s privacy mode.

*This article was first released on our press site on www.operasoftware.com.

**Update on Nov 3 2016: We took out the names of top 60 shopping apps we tested to avoid confusion or misunderstanding.

Link to get Opera Max data saving app in Google Play

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  • Madaliso

    I am very disappointed with the new update. Full of ads and other confusing jargon. What is this 90 day thing, what is this fresh, all of this confusing new UI. can someone clarify what all these new features are all about and how they work?

    • Peko Wan

      Hi Madaliso,

      Understood your feeling. Yes, it is a big change. In this version, we start having a timer in place so that we can offload our servers a bit and make Opera Max more efficient. The timer for the first time users is 12 hours. You got 90 days which means you are a VIP so no need to come back to turn on the button every day like others. If the timer runs out of time, all you have to do is to turn it on if you want to use Opera Max’s compression technology to save data or use privacy mode to encrypt data. As for how the new feature- privacy mode works, you can check the detail here at http://www.opera.com/blogs/mobile/2016/10/app-privacy-opera-max-android-iphone/.

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  • JohnDavid

    Yes Ofcourse most of the ecommerce & Advertising websites scrape all details . opera max will help so much

    • Peko Wan

      Thank you for your support, John. We keep working hard to make this app better and more useful.

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  • Josh B

    Question, is there a point to Opera Max if you’re already using Opera VPN? One seems to turn off the other on my Android phone.

    • Peko Wan

      Hi Josh, depending on your need. If you want to manage and save data, you will need Opera Max. 🙂

  • Crak Lod Mes

    Where can I find the full report?

    • Peko Wan

      Hi Crak, the full report is all here in this post.

  • dirgas

    Don’t think so. See, full opt-out is not enough. For example Google is in favor of Microsoft “new” cloud and you will stay in even you are out on DAA list when you are logged, in fact that’s a matter of device opt out. Opera News app will track me anyway with or without VPN and currently Opera Max has a diminished capability for opt-out with 50% on all lists, the behavior started a month ago.

    • Peko Wan

      Hi Dirgas, when people login a service, they agree terms and conditions, including the service providers will collect their private information. We support the act that the service providers make transparent about it and inform the consumers before using. Opera Max’s private mode provides an interface for users to see the behavior of apps that *might* put your privacy at risk and whether the apps provide any protection for your data as it flies through mobile and Wi-Fi networks. Then the users have an option whether they want to activate encryption and block the trackers. Currently we base the core of our blocking mechanisms on the EasyPrivacy filter list, which is a reliable, open-source platform used by other ad-blocking services as well. It helps reduce the amount of profiling you are subjected to. We are also looking into more mechanism in the near future to strengthen this feature.

  • iamjohn

    I had to downgrade to version 1.7.8, then turn off auto updates for opera max, just so I don’t have to deal with the annoying “Add Time” feature. For others out there looking to downgrade, you can get the apk from ApkMirror, install the app, then open the playstore and go to the opera max page, tap the 3 line “hamburger button” and tap auto updates to turn off auto updates for opera max. this was you never have to deal with the “add time” feature! You’re welcome

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