Mobile Applications and Access to Private Data: The Supply Side of the Android Ecosystem

49 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2018

See all articles by Reinhold Kesler

Reinhold Kesler

University of Zurich

Michael E. Kummer

University of East Anglia (UEA)

Patrick Schulte

Deutsche Bundesbank

Date Written: 2017


We analyze the data collection strategies of 65,000 developers in the market for mobile applications and track 300,000 applications over four years. Many apps belong to developers with multiple apps. This fact generates variation in the privacy behaviors of the same developer for our analysis. We uncover three stylized facts: First, developers “learn” to use increasingly intrusive data strategies as they become more experienced. Second, intrusive data collection is most likely in apps that target the 13 , and 16 age category, which raises concerns for the protection of young app consumers. Third, even within developers, critical and atypical permissions predict problematic usage of private user data most successfully. Our findings inform both regulators and scientists who wish to model supply in the market for mobile apps.

Keywords: Mobile Applications, Developers, Learning, Data Collection, Privacy

JEL Classification: O3, L1, D62, D85, D29

Suggested Citation

Kesler, Reinhold and Kummer, Michael and Schulte, Patrick, Mobile Applications and Access to Private Data: The Supply Side of the Android Ecosystem (2017). ZEW - Centre for European Economic Research Discussion Paper No. 17-075, Available at SSRN: or

Reinhold Kesler (Contact Author)

University of Zurich ( email )

Rämistrasse 71
Zürich, CH-8006

Michael Kummer

University of East Anglia (UEA) ( email )

Norwich Research Park
Norwich, Norfolk NR4 7TJ
United Kingdom

Patrick Schulte

Deutsche Bundesbank ( email )

Wilhelm-Epstein-Str. 14
Frankfurt/Main, 60431

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