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Is your favorite app also spying on you? 

The 100 biggest spy apps at a glance 

Where were you in 2007? In January of that year there was a revolution in the world of technology: a new product was launched that changed the way we live our lives and how companies collect information about us. The iPhone was released and immediately received a huge amount of hype due to its numerous functions (telephone, music player, web surfing,..). People were enthusiastic about the compact mobile device and due to further developments and more providers, smartphones have become indispensable today: around 80 percent of the world's population now own one.

Mobile phone applications - or (mobile) apps for short - existed before the iPhone, but they only proliferated after the release of the smartphone. An app is a type of software that is mostly associated with running on mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets. Some apps are just copies of popular websites adapted to the smartphone display, other apps are standalone and completely new programs. When Apple opened its App Store in 2008, there were just 500 mobile applications for iPhone users. Today there are more than 2,2 million. In the same year, Google launched its own app marketplace, Google Play, which now offers around 3,5 million apps. More than 90% of these apps are available for free. 

If the product is free, then you are the product

Everyone who uses apps pays a hidden price: the price for their own personal data. As we use them in our daily lives, apps collect information about us that they can use or resell. From browser history to phone contact list, little information is usually safe from them here. For example, the Personal Information the Applications collect about us may help third parties better understand their audience and reach them with targeted advertising messages. As data protection experts, the heyData team wanted to find out which mobile apps spy the most and are at the forefront when it comes to gaining access to personal data. 

However, apps need to ask permission to access our personal data. However, it is not clear to many app users when this is the case. By accepting an app's terms of service without reading it, you may already be giving permission to access personal information. In other cases, nicely worded pop-ups like "We value your privacy" or "Help us improve" may actually be an app's request for permission to use the personal data. By analyzing hundreds of popular, freely available apps on Google Play, we found out which apps in Germany make the most requests to collect personal data. The result is the list of top spy apps!

The full list of top 100 spy apps can be found here right here

Our procedure for the ranking 

The aim of the study was to find out which apps make the most requests for access to personal data. In April 2022, we examined 250 of the most popular apps freely available in Germany on the Google Play app store, including social media, fitness, dating, music, news and traffic apps. Each available mobile application featured on Google Play has a corresponding landing page on play.google.com. These landing pages provide more information about the app, including the data that the app requires permission to access. This information can be found under the "Permissions" section.

We then recorded all the different permission requests, with the apps making the most access requests counting as the apps spying the most. The list of 250 apps was reduced to a final list of 100 total, which eventually right here is available. 

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Europe In The Data Protection Ranking

With the adoption of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May 2018, the European Union set a milestone in the history of data protection that has received great international recognition. With the aim of achieving a common high level of data protection, rules for the protection of personal information have been standardized for the entire European Union for the first time. In a growing digitized world, in which theoretically every activity can be tracked and personal data generates high financial profits, the possibilities of individuals to control their personal information are limited. At this point, the regulation has created a dense network of rights and obligations that give consumers power and control over their data back.

heyData knows data protection from its daily work with companies. Therefore, three years after the introduction of the GDPR, we wanted to use this study to find out how close the European countries have come when it comes to the level of data protection and to discover which points still need improvement. To do this, we examined the majority of the EU member states, Norway, which also implemented the EU GDPR, and the United Kingdom, in which the regulation was in effect until Brexit.

The study focuses on five overarching categories, which we have evaluated in 24 sub-points using data and statistics from well-known sources, such as the European Commission or the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. A comparison of the EU countries was made possible by a simple mathematical point system. The result is the following data protection ranking, which shows the nations with the actually highest data protection level - Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands - at the top.

Europe In Comparison

Enforcement of Laws

Data Protection Violations

% Increase in Data Protection Violations During Pandemic

Fines (€)

About

Data Protection Strategy

Privacy Team

Compulsory Voluntary Training

Further Training

Data Loss

Data Leak

Insurance Cover

Individual Data Protection

Smartphone Malware

Computer Malware

Payment Fraud

Phishing

Data Protection Competence

Advertising

Browser

Cookies

Tracking

Social Media

Apps

Cloud

Social Mood About Data Protection

Fear of Data Abuse

Authority Over Data

Overall Winners in the Data Protection Ranking

Position
Country
Final
Evaluation
Enforcement
Of Laws
About
Individual Data Protection
Privacy-
Expertise
Social
Mood
1
Ireland
100,0
80,6
85,1
100,0
43,9
100,0
2
Germany
80,3
74,6
60,9
81,9
70,9
66,7
3
Netherlands
73,6
88,8
50,9
50,0
95,6
51,3
4
United Kingdom
64,8
52,1
100,0
9,2
58,4
92,3
5
Denmark
59,5
73,1
98,3
0,0
82,3
43,6
6
Finland
58,9
38,9
51,0
64,8
100,0
41,0
7
Belgium
44,3
5,3
51,7
72,1
46,6
79,5
8
Sweden
41,2
100,0
65,3
9,2
72,1
0,0
9
Italy
38,5
79,0
73,2
33,4
0,0
53,8
10
Austria
37,3
2,2
38,7
85,0
68,8
41,0
11
France
31,0
54,5
38,5
12,9
40,7
71,8
12
Latvia
27,8
2,1
63,1
64,2
13,5
66,7
13
Luxembourg
27,4
27,4
35,9
9,8
58,4
76,9
14
Poland
23,0
7,9
35,1
69,9
21,9
61,5
15
Spain
18,6
18,7
55,2
4,6
54,2
51,3
16
Estonia
17,3
0,9
47,3
88,1
41,8
2,6
17
Greece
16,1
1,2
21,8
93,1
7,3
53,8
18
Slovenia
15,7
32,1
30,9
50,6
26,4
35,9
19
Norway
12,9
26,2
45,5
4,2
64,2
28,2
20
Lithuania
0,8
0,0
29,9
76,2
13,3
15,4
21
Hungary
0,0
6,1
0,0
9,0
45,7
71,8

Enforcement of Laws

Position
Country
Category Evaluation
Data Protection Violations
Points
% Increase in Data Protection Violations During Pandemic
%
Points
Fines (€)
Points
1
Sweden
100
119
30,4
1,6 %
71,7
111,352 €
95,8
2
Netherlands
89
382
100,0
2,4 % OFF
75,6
14,591
12,6
3
Ireland
81
345
90,2
1,5 % OFF
74,7
14,402
12,4
4
Italy
79
6
0,6
23,4 %
50,8
116,242
100,0
5
Germany
75
93
23,8
76,2 %
0,0
83,068
71,5
6
Denmark
73
325
85,0
36,2 %
38,5
9,811
8,4
7
France
55
8
1,2
10,6 % OFF
83,4
80,862
69,6
8
United Kingdom
52
46
11,1
27,9 % OFF
100,0
65,976
56,8
9
Finland
39
187
48,6
1,6 %
71,7
3,755
3,2
10
Slovenia
32
168
43,5
52,3 %
23,0
0
0,0
11
Luxembourg
27
147
37,9
8,7 %
64,9
0
0,0
12
Norway
26
91
23,1
3,5 %
69,9
15,432
13,3
13
Spain
19
7
0,9
54,7 %
20,7
30,613
26,3
14
Poland
8
42
10,3
63,6 %
12,1
4,494
3,9
15
Hungary
6
16
3,3
72,4 %
3,6
10,031
8,6
16
Belgium
5
22
4,8
26,0 %
48,3
7,251
6,2
17
Austria
2
28
6,5
18,3 % OFF
90,8
797
0,7
18
Latvia
2
14
2,9
13,7 % OFF
86,4
4,869
4,2
19
Greece
1
3
0,0
14,2 % OFF
86,9
6,951
6,0
20
Estonia
1
25
5,6
14,0 %
59,7
31
0,0
21
Lithuania
0
11
2,0
62,7 %
13,0
2,89
2,5

About

Position
Country
Category Evaluation
Data Protection Strategy
%
Points
Data Protection Team
%
Points
Continuing Education Voluntary
%
Points
Compulsory Training
%
Points
Data Loss
%
Points
Data Leak
%
Points
Insurance Cover
%
Points
1
United Kingdom
100
40
%
93,8
45,0
%
0,0
60,0
%
100,0
37
%
84,4
2
%
100,0
1
%
100,0
46
%
80,8
2
Denmark
98
42
%
100,0
69,0
%
75,0
52,0
%
77,8
35
%
78,1
4
%
71,4
2
%
50,0
56
%
100,0
3
Ireland
85
42
%
100,0
61,0
%
50,0
59,0
%
97,2
35
%
78,1
5
%
57,1
2
%
50,0
39
%
67,3
4
Italy
73
28
%
56,3
66,0
%
65,6
47,0
%
63,9
35
%
78,1
4
%
71,4
1
%
100,0
13
%
17,3
5
Sweden
65
39
%
90,6
59,0
%
43,8
44,0
%
55,6
26
%
50,0
8
%
14,3
1
%
100,0
39
%
67,3
6
Latvia
63
25
%
46,9
74,0
%
90,6
60,0
%
100,0
20
%
31,3
7
%
28,6
1
%
100,0
12
%
15,4
7
Germany
61
27
%
53,1
68,0
%
71,9
49,0
%
69,4
17
%
21,9
5
%
57,1
1
%
100,0
20
%
30,8
8
Spain
55
25
%
46,9
67,0
%
68,8
41,0
%
47,2
21
%
34,4
7
%
28,6
1
%
100,0
33
%
55,8
9
Belgium
52
27
%
53,1
77,0
%
100,0
42,0
%
50,0
20
%
31,3
6
%
42,9
2
%
50,0
25
%
40,4
10
Finland
51
35
%
78,1
62,0
%
53,1
54,0
%
83,3
25
%
46,9
5
%
57,1
3
%
0,0
28
%
46,2
11
Netherlands
51
32
%
68,8
74,0
%
90,6
35,0
%
30,6
18
%
25,0
5
%
57,1
2
%
50,0
26
%
42,3
12
Estonia
47
18
%
25,0
54,0
%
28,1
44,0
%
55,6
42
%
100,0
3
%
85,7
2
%
50,0
7
%
5,8
13
Norway
46
22
%
37,5
52,0
%
21,9
41,0
%
47,2
29
%
59,4
4
%
71,4
2
%
50,0
33
%
55,8
14
Austria
39
28
%
56,3
60,0
%
46,9
39,0
%
41,7
22
%
37,5
5
%
57,1
2
%
50,0
18
%
26,9
15
France
39
18
%
25,0
67,0
%
68,8
36,0
%
33,3
19
%
28,1
6
%
42,9
2
%
50,0
39
%
67,3
16
Luxembourg
36
22
%
37,5
63,0
%
56,3
39,0
%
41,7
21
%
34,4
6
%
42,9
2
%
50,0
26
%
42,3
17
Poland
35
18
%
25,0
69,0
%
75,0
26,0
%
5,6
32
%
68,8
8
%
14,3
1
%
100,0
11
%
13,5
18
Slovenia
31
26
%
50,0
61,0
%
50,0
44,0
%
55,6
15
%
15,6
8
%
143
1
%
100,0
4
%
0,0
19
Lithuania
30
22
%
37,5
64,0
%
59,4
42,0
%
50,0
21
%
34,4
9
%
0,0
1
%
100,0
4
%
0,0
20
Greece
22
10
%
0,0
57,0
%
37,5
24,0
%
0,0
10
%
0,0
4
%
71,4
1
%
100,0
25
%
40,4
21
Hungary
0
13
%
9,4
45,0
%
0,0
33,0
%
25,0
10
%
0,0
7
%
28,6
1
%
100,0
4
%
0,0

Individual Data Protection

Position
Country
Category Evaluation
Smartphone Malware
%
Points
Computer Malware
%
Points
Payment Fraud
%
Points
Phishing
Points
1
Ireland
100
2
%
85,7
1,6
%
88,8
0,1
%
100,0
0,93
%
68,9
2
Greece
93
4
%
57,1
2,4
%
79,8
0,6
%
93,0
0,5
%
84,7
3
Estonia
88
1
%
100,0
2,7
%
76,0
1,3
%
82,5
0,7
%
76,7
4
Austria
85
3
%
71,4
0,6
%
100,0
2,1
%
72,6
0,4
%
91,9
5
Germany
82
3
%
71,4
1,1
%
94,4
1,0
%
87,6
0,63
%
81,4
6
Lithuania
76
3
%
71,4
0,6
%
99,9
0,3
%
96,5
0,2
%
98,5
7
Belgium
72
4
%
57,1
1,2
%
93,0
1,9
%
74,2
1,0
%
68,0
8
Poland
70
4
%
57,1
0,7
%
99,1
0,4
%
95,6
0,2
%
100,0
9
Finland
65
3
%
71,4
2 ,, 4
%
79,8
1,7
%
77,6
0,9
%
68,8
10
Latvia
64
4
%
57,1
0,7
%
98,7
1,0
%
87,4
0,3
%
95,8
11
Slovenia
51
4
%
57,1
1,3
%
92,1
1,9
%
74,9
0,6
%
84,3
12
Netherlands
50
3
%
71,4
1,5
%
90,2
2,2
%
71,0
0,80
%
74,4
13
Italy
33
5
%
42,9
1,8
%
86,8
1,9
%
75,0
1,0
%
64,7
14
France
13
5
%
42,
2,8
%
74,8
5,4
%
26,4
1,5
%
45,9
15
Luxembourg
10
5
%
42,9
5,4
%
45,4
3,1
%
58,4
0,9
%
69,4
16
United Kingdom
9
1
%
100,0
2,0
%
84,2
7,3
%
0,0
1,9
%
30,6
17
Sweden
9
3
%
71,4
2,3
%
81,0
3,3
%
55,8
2,5
%
6,5
18
Hungary
9
7
%
14,3
9,3
%
0,0
4,9
%
33,7
0,4
%
89,4
19
Spain
5
8
%
0,0
2,4
%
79,2
3,1
%
58,0
1,0
%
67,3
20
Norway
4
4
%
57,1
2,1
%
83,5
4,4
%
40,8
2,1
%
21,9
21
Denmark
0
4
%
57,1
1,8
%
86,5
5,6
%
23,2
2,6
%
0,0

Data Protection Competence

Position
Country
Category Evaluation
Advertising
%
Points
Browser
%
Points
Cookies
%
Points
Tracking
%
Points
Social Media
%
Points
Apps
%
Points
Smartphone
Points
Cloud
%
Points
1
Finland
100
69,7
%
94,2
41,5
%
91,2
50,1
%
100,0
22,2
%
37,1
56,7
%
87,3
67
%
97,5
22
100,0
50
%
55,3
2
Netherlands
96
72,6
%
100,0
41,4
%
90,9
46,8
%
89,7
29,7
%
54,2
62,7
%
100,0
64
%
90,0
14
52,9
51
%
57,9
3
Denmark
82
63,5
%
81,9
44,2
%
100,0
32,6
%
45,3
25,7
%
45,1
48,8
%
70,6
61
%
82,5
11
35,3
65
%
94,7
4
Sweden
72
43,6
%
42,6
41,5
%
91,1
29,3
%
35,1
26,0
%
45,7
40,
4%
52,6
68
%
100,0
10
29,4
66
%
97,4
5
Germany
71
62,8
%
80,5
30,7
%
55,5
49,1
%
97,1
18,2
%
28,0
40,1
%
52,0
65
%
92,5
17
70,6
33
%
10,5
6
Austria
69
60,3
%
75,6
42,2
%
93,4
36,9
%
59,0
12,1
%
14,0
53,8
%
81,1
53
%
62,5
16
64,7
38
%
23,7
7
Norway
64
47,0
%
49,3
38,8
%
82,2
27,3
%
28,8
24,5
%
42,3
36,8
%
45,1
67
%
97.5
10
29,4
56
%
71,1
8
United Kingdom
58
55,2
%
65,4
28,9
%
49,4
33,7
%
48,8
27,4
%
48,8
45,3
%
63,1
44
%
40,0
10
29,4
54
%
65,8
9
Luxembourg
58
38,4
%
32,2
36,0
%
73,1
40,4
%
69,7
20,3
%
32,7
29,6
%
29,8
63
%
87,5
12
41,2
46
%
44,7
10
Spain
54
62,2
%
79,5
18,3
%
14,4
28,9
%
33,9
13,9
18,2
53,8
%
81,1
57
%
72,5
12
41., 2
46
%
44,7
11
Belgium
47
40,9
%
37,1
15,1
%
3,8
31,4
%
41,5
49,9
%
100,0
27,8
%
25,9
50
%
55,0
9
23,5
49
%
52,6
12
Hungary
46
40,2
%
35,8
25,6
%
38,4
27,2
%
28,4
17,5
%
26,3
35,6
%
42,5
46
%
45,0
8
17,6
67
%
100,0
13
Ireland
44
50,4
%
56,0
15,3
%
4,5
29,6
%
35,9
9,9
%
9,1
42,7
%
57,7
51
%
57,5
13
47,1
50
%
55,3
14
Estonia
42
35,8
%
27,1
25,4
%
38,0
34,5
%
51,3
20,5
%
33,1
27,4
%
25,1
50
%
55,0
12
41,2
44
%
39,5
15
France
41
43,8
%
43,0
25,7
%
38,9
32,8
%
46,1
19,3
%
30,5
34,6
%
40,3
53
%
62,5
10
29,4
34
%
13,2
16
Slovenia
26
34,8
%
25,2
22,7
%
29,0
23,3
%
16,4
18,1
%
27,6
24,9
%
19,8
49
%
52,5
8
17,6
40
%
28,9
17
Poland
22
36,2
%
27,9
15,4
%
4,9
26,3
%
25,8
19,5
%
30,9
30,5
%
31,7
46
%
45,0
9
23,5
29
%
0,0
18
Latvia
14
32,0
%
19,5
15,1
%
3,6
23,6
%
17,3
10,6
%
10,6
31,2
%
33,1
40
%
30,0
7
11,8
34
%
13,2
19
Lithuania
13
32,8
%
21,2
21,0
%
23,3
19,9
%
5,8
13,8
%
18,0
27,7
%
25,8
33
%
12,5
5
0,0
41
%
31,6
20
Greece
7
28,6
%
12,8
14,0
%
0,0
23,3
%
16,4
14,3
%
19,0
24,4
%
18,8
33
%
12,5
7
11,8
33
%
10., 5
21
Italy
0
22,1
%
0,0
27,3
%
%
44,3
18,1
%
0,0
5,9
%
0,0
15,6
%
0,0
28
%
0,0
5
0,0
34
%
13,2

Social Mood About Data Protection

Position
Country
Category Evaluation
Fear of Data Abuse
%
Points
Authority Over Data
%
Points
1
Ireland
100
83
%
100,0
26,0
%
65,5
2
United Kingdom
92
80
%
92,3
26,0
%
65,5
3
Belgium
80
75
%
79,5
33,0
%
41,4
4
Luxembourg
77
74
%
76,9
26,0
%
65,5
5
France
72
72
%
71,8
34,0
%
37,9
6
Hungary
72
72
%
71,8
26,0
%
65,5
7
Germany
67
70
%
66,7
45,0
%
0,0
8
Latvia
67
70
%
66,7
31,0
%
48,3
9
Poland
62
68
%
61,5
21,0
%
82,8
10
Italy
54
65
%
53,8
23,0
%
75,9
11
Greece
54
65
%
53,8
22,0
%
79,3
12
Netherlands
51
64
%
51,3
30,0
%
51,7
13
Spain
51
64
%
51,3
36,0
%
31,0
14
Denmark
44
61
%
43,6
26,0
%
65,5
15
Finland
41
60
%
41,0
16,0
%
100,0
16
Austria
41
60
%
41,0
31,0
%
48,3
17
Slovenia
36
58
%
35,9
25,0
%
69,0
18
Norway
28
55
%
28,2
24,0
%
72,4
19
Lithuania
15
50
%
15,4
17,0
%
96,6
20
Estonia
3
45
%
2,6
21,0
%
82,8
21
Sweden
0
44
%
0,0
31,0
%
48,3

Methodology In A Nutshell

The aim of the study is to evaluate the efficiency of data protection measures as well as the data protection competence of consumers in Europe and to compare them at national level. The objects of investigation are all member states of the European Union (with exceptions) as well as the United Kingdom and Norway.

Bulgaria, Croatia, Malta, Portugal, Cyprus, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia had to be excluded from the study due to insufficient data and to enable a fair comparison between all nations.

For the study, all of the named nations were evaluated in the five research fields “Legal Regulations”, “Companies”, “Private Individuals”, “Data Protection Competence” and “Social Mood”. A total of 24 influencing factors contributed to the final result of the study. All influencing factors were selected based on their informative value in relation to the performance of data protection measures or the data protection competence of consumers.

The result is a ranking of the pioneering nations in terms of data protection. The study ended on May 15, 2021.

A complete presentation of the methodology with all definitions, data and sources can be found here (German version, English version)