For the extra cautious and paranoid, Exodus Privacy is for you. In this world of constant tracking and monitoring; it is important to be aware of what your device is doing and more specifically, what the applications on your phone are up to.

If you did not know, your phone is an attention seeker. It is continuously screaming into the airwaves. 

From the moment you switch it on with your sim card in, it immediately tries to tell every telecom mast in the area that it is available and ready for communication. This follows through to the applications on your device(s).

A predominantly used app that continues to be of great concern due to its amount of data collection is Facebook. Similarly, TikTok has also recently taken the heat for its privacy concerns. 

Having been banned in India while it faces a similar fate in the United States, the app was also caught grabbing clipboard information on iOS devices.

Who is Exodus-Privacy?

Exodus Privacy is a French non-profit organization managed by hacktivists who want to protect privacy everywhere. 

The European Union (EU) has over the past few years raged war on big tech and improper data collection. It is no surprise that this app is also from the EU. 

Their app is specifically for Android devices which allows users to view all apps installed on their devices with their trackers and permissions.

Safeboda's total number of trackers and permissions
Safeboda's total number of trackers and permissions

Trackers, in this case, refer to services that collect information about users on an app or website. 

These trackers can collect IP addresses, geographic location, and browser characteristics. They help developers and companies understand their users’ habits within an app or website.

Exodus gives an overview of the known trackers used in the application as different trackers have different functions. A few types of trackers are listed below:

  • Crash reporters – These are used to help developers analyze information of an app when it suddenly fails. They specialize in reporting bugs and related information. A good example is Google Crashlytics.
  • Analytics – These trackers are meant to collect data usage and provide usage statistics of audience. Blogs and News websites use these constantly to understand their audience interests. Google Analytics is the most common.
  • Ads – These are aimed at app users to serve targeted ads. The best way to understand this is by visiting the Jumia website and selecting a product; upon opening Facebook or Instagram, you are most likely to be greeted by an ad on that same product you were viewing on Jumia.
  • Identification – These help in determining who you are, i.e., your digital identity. If you sign in with Google or with your Facebook account, you are most likely be presented with examples of identification trackers. Sign in with Facebook is a very common form of identification.

Additionally, the app also shows all permissions the app requests or has; it tags certain permissions with exclamation marks.

Tagged permissions show an app could misbehave with those permissions
Tagged permissions show an app could misbehave with those permissions

A tagged permission means that the application can do dubious things if that permission is granted to it. These tags are provided using Google’s classification of permissions.

What can you do with permissions?

You have control over most of these permissions and if you do not feel comfortable, you can switch them off for a specific app. However, that action might break the app’s functionality.

Thankfully, from Android 10 and onwards, you have more granular control of how apps access permissions to do certain things.

For example, you can grant Facebook permission to access your location only while using the app. Android will not allow Facebook to use location services when the app is not in use. However, this does not mean Facebook will not find a way to track your location.

facebook allow permissions
Android now lets you choose how apps can use certain permissions - Courtesy Photo from Android Authority.

It is worth noting that Exodus Privacy does not analyze installed applications on your phone. It retrieves information about specific versions of the apps installed from its website. 

Ideally, you can visit the site and search for a specific app and view the report on that app. You can also download the app here

There are applications that have up wards of 40 trackers in one app.

Exodus Privacy is a worthwhile app that you will not use daily however, it is worth taking a look at whenever you get time.

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