The access to privacy-sensitive information on Android is a growing concern in the mobile community. Albeit Google Play recently introduced someprivacy guidelines, it is still an open problem to soundly verify whether apps actuallycomply with such rules. To this aim, in this work, we discuss a novel methodology based on a fruitful combination of static analysis, dynamic analysis, and machine learning techniques, which allows assessing such compliance. More in detail, our methodology checks whether each app i) contains a privacy policy that complies with the Google Play privacy guidelines, and ii) accesses privacy-sensitive information only upon the acceptance of the policy by the user.
Furthermore, the methodology also allows checking the compliance of third-party libraries embeddedin the apps w.r.t. the same privacy guidelines. We implemented our methodology in a tool, 3PDroid, and we carried out an assessment on a set of recent and most-downloaded Android apps in the Google Play Store. Experimental results suggest that more than 95% of apps access user’s privacy-sensitive information, but just a negligible subset of them (≈1%) fully complies with the Google Play privacy guidelines.

Demo and Results

The results of the experimental evaluation described in the paper can be downloaded here.

To request access to 3PDroid demo, obtain the source code, or if you simply want to test your app with 3PDroid, please contact luca.verderame(A)

The Paper

On the (Un)Reliability of Privacy Policies in Android Apps
Luca Verderame, Davide Caputo, Andrea Romdhana, and Alessio Merlo
In Proc. of the IEEE International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN 2020).

Please use the following bibtex entry to cite our work:

  author = {Luca Verderame and Davide Caputo and Andrea Romdhana and Alessio Merlo},
  title = {On the (Un)Reliability of Privacy Policies in Android Apps},
  booktitle = {Proc. of the IEEE International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN 2020)},
  month = {July},
  year = {2020},
  address = {Glasgow, UK}