Revealed: Bluetooth Car Battery Monitor Sends Sensitive Data to Servers in China
A Bluetooth car battery monitor and its accompanying app, with over 100,000 downloads on the Google Play Store, has been found to be continuously sending sensitive data, including GPS, cell phone tower cell IDs, and WiFi beacon data to servers located in mainland China and Hong Kong. The Google and Apple app store pages for the app in question indicate that no personal data is collected or sent to third parties, yet this appears to be misleading.
Furthermore, the author of the blog post also questions why one would need a car battery monitoring app when the car’s dashboard already displays this information. Moreover, this app can drain one’s phone battery due to its continuous monitoring of data. Additionally, the post highlights the difficulty in finding standalone devices that do not require an app to function.
The monitoring device in question is the BM6, which is marketed as having a personal account, allowing for one to track their vehicle. Oddly enough, this feature is not unique to the BM6 app and is also accessible with other variants of the app.
The author’s work emphasizes the importance of being transparent with customers regarding data collection and the need to protect people’s privacy. While granting apps access to location or network information can be useful, it is vital to inform users accurately what data is collected and why it is necessary. Operating systems also need to allow for users to have more control over app permissions, such as granular control over network access.
This investigation also underscores the challenges of app developers accessing sensitive data, particularly when it is not necessary for an app’s functionality. The app in question does not require GPS data to Monitor a vehicle battery’s performance. As consumers, it is fundamental to be vigilant of the information we share with third-party apps and devices. Ultimately, more transparency and control are needed to ensure that our data is not misused or exploited unknowingly.
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Author Eliza Ng