The Wall Street Journal reports that over half of smart phone applications they tested were transmitting personal information about the phone operators to advertising agencies and other companies without user knowledge or consent.

An examination of 101 popular smartphone “apps”—games and other software applications for iPhone and Android phones—showed that 56 transmitted the phone’s unique device ID to other companies without users’ awareness or consent. Forty-seven apps transmitted the phone’s location in some way. Five sent age, gender and other personal details to outsiders.

This is less than surprising, but still depressing.

Both the Android and iPhone versions of Pandora, a popular music app, sent age, gender, location and phone identifiers to various ad networks. iPhone and Android versions of a game called Paper Toss—players try to throw paper wads into a trash can—each sent the phone’s ID number to at least five ad companies. Grindr, an iPhone app for meeting gay men, sent gender, location and phone ID to three ad companies.

I’m surprised that Apple would allow this, particularly because its ability to control the apps sold for iPhones should differentiate their apps from Androids–a real marketplace advantage….