These are the photo editing apps that are collecting and tracking your private data

May 26, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

These are the photo editing apps that are collecting and tracking your private data

May 26, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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When we think of online privacy, we typically think of social media, editing, browsing or shopping apps that open our private lives up to the potential world. Or, at least to advertisers. But these aren’t the only things we should be worried about, as this report by the folks at Surfshark illustrates.

Amongst the eighteen types of apps that Surfshark looked into, including social media, shopping, streaming, dating, and various others they delved into image editing apps. And the amount of data that each one captures might surprise you. For example, did you know that VSCO tracks your search history and wants the info on all your contacts?

The information on each of the apps and the permissions they require comes directly from Apple’s App Store. And while image editing apps overall ranked down at the bottom – tied with browsers for last place – and don’t even come close to things like social media and food delivery apps, the data that some of the apps collect is surprising.

Some of the data is pretty much required for this type of app. For example, many image editing apps have a camera app built in. So, they’ll want to know your location to be able to geotag the images. That’s all pretty normal. But why does VSCO need to know my search history and want information on all my contacts? And what is the “sensitive info” that Lightroom requires?

Notably missing are a couple of popular image editing apps, like Google’s Snapseed and Affinity Photo, so it would be interesting to see where they stack up in this list. If you want something that tracks absolutely nothing, though, might want to take a look at Pixelmator.

If you want to see what type of apps are the most data-hungry privacy invaders, and specifically which apps in those categories are the worst offenders, see the complete list over on the Surfshark website.

I was surprised by some of these. What mobile image editing app do you use?

Update: Image updated to reflect correct app icon for Photoleap

[via Surfshark / Images used with permission]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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16 responses to “These are the photo editing apps that are collecting and tracking your private data”

  1. Preso Petrov Avatar
    Preso Petrov

    Nothing from this ?

  2. Dušan DuPe Pethö Avatar
    Dušan DuPe Pethö

    Why mobile?

  3. Greg Silver Avatar
    Greg Silver

    Big fan of Pixelmator and Pixelmator Photo for the iPad. They update frequently and it’s a polished product. Highly recommend.

  4. Ivan Kutskir Avatar
    Ivan Kutskir

    Your chart contains the app “Photoleap” which does not exist on the App Store. Other apps could also be made up.

    1. jorn Avatar
      jorn

      You made that up. It’s indeed on the Apple App Store, by the makers of VideoLeap It used to be called PhotoFox, IIRC

      1. Ivan Kutskir Avatar
        Ivan Kutskir

        I found Photoleap from LightTricks, but this Photoleap is supposed to have agreen icon, as in the article.

        1. Juniasta Datah Avatar
          Juniasta Datah

          Maybe during research the author did some typo, like typing “Photolea” (instead of photoleap) that google corrected into Photopea
          LOL

          Thanks for the Photopea tho
          What a great photo editor

    2. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      What’s this then? Looks like Photoleap on the App Store to me.

      https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/photoleap-by-lightricks/id1191337894

      1. Ivan Kutskir Avatar
        Ivan Kutskir

        Do you think they mean this one? The icon is completely different than the one they use in the article.

        1. Kaouthia Avatar
          Kaouthia

          Perhaps they changed their icon since Surfshark made the table? App authors can do that. :)

        2. Juniasta Datah Avatar
          Juniasta Datah

          Maybe during research the author did some typo, like typing “Photolea” (instead of photoleap) that google corrected into Photopea
          LOL

          Thanks for the Photopea tho
          What a great photo editor ?

  5. Courtney Avatar
    Courtney

    Sensitive data? Is that the permission for a user name and password perhaps?
    What a crappy article.

  6. Niklas Isberg Avatar
    Niklas Isberg

    Snapseed is the best. Won’t even look at other options. ?

  7. Matthew Ron Anderson Avatar
    Matthew Ron Anderson

    why edit on mobile… smh

    1. ShishkaBerry Avatar
      ShishkaBerry

      Because you took the picture on the phone doofus… Smh

  8. Joost Wierenga Avatar
    Joost Wierenga

    None