It’s no secret that we’re constantly tracked while on the Internet. While marketers and organizations contend that tracking users help them understand their behavior and preferences so they can improve their services, many users find this degree of tracking to be invasive. Many users may even end up divulging more information about their browsing habits than they intended to, often by browsing some insecure or untrustworthy websites. While its commonly believed that most of the tracking online happens while browsing the Internet on our PCs, there are hundreds of Android apps out there that come with built-in trackers to not just store information about you but also share that information with potential third-party clients such as advertisers.
If you take privacy more seriously than the average user and absolutely want to deter being tracked by apps on your phone, you should try out a new open-source app called Warden that claims to block trackers and loggers hidden within apps. Warden is created by XDA Senior member who is notable for his work behind the Aurora Store, a popular, unofficial, open-source Google Play Store client. Using root access, Warden allows the user to disable all detected trackers and loggers contained within apps. It also features a profile-based “debloater” that supports scripting. The app supports Android version 5.0 and above.
The Warden App Manager uses a static list of trackers and loggers compiled by French non-profit Exodus Privacy. It reads the dex (Dalvik Executable) files within each app installed on your phone to see if any of the class names match a known tracker or logger from the aforementioned list. Loggers, in this context, means “all utilities which are used to log user activity on an app or logcat in general.” WhyOrean notes that not all loggers are evil and some might be used to log users’ activities for various (legitimate) purposes. However, there are a few logging tools “like ACRA, xLog” that are powerful tools that can “send user data to devs without user’s consent.”
Besides offering an insight into pesky trackers, Warden comes with a “De-Bloater” and “Nuke it!” mode, both of which require root access. While the De-Bloater allows users to disable, hide, or uninstall apps with fishy trackers, the Nuke it! feature allows users to scan all apps installed on the device and disable all known tracker components (Activities, Services, Providers, and Receivers) automatically. Both “De-Bloater” and “Nuke it!” are considered experimental features at the moment, so be sure to visit the below thread to give feedback to the developer in case you experience any issues or have any suggestions.