Thursday, March 8, 2012

Maximum Nakedness Online

The first time I got hold of my Android phone, I was overwhelmed by the tons of apps that can be downloaded for free. Not only do these apps span different worlds – from solitaire and dictionaries to guitar tuners and financial calculators – they also update quickly, fixing bugs and offering better and, sometimes, newer services.

The only thing that kept me from downloading them all (at least up to that point my phone memory could hold) was the permissions part where the person downloading is made to choose between surrendering certain controls and maintaining total control. Choosing the latter means not being able to download that app at all.

These are screenshots of the permissions part that appeared when I tried to download Tic Tac Toe, TextTwist, Cigarette Lighter and Download Everything apps.

Why the hell would Tic Tac Toe directly call phone numbers? Why does a simple game like this require permission to read and write “browser's history and bookmarks”?

And why would TextTwist do the same? Call phone numbers? A Cigarette Lighter application needs full Internet access! For what?

So I decided that apps requiring permissions for calling phone numbers, reading and writing browser's history and bookmarks, etc. were a no-no. Justifying the permission for full Internet access as needed for updating and fixing bugs, I resolved that apps requiring only that are safe. Until I read that Android apps need only permission to access the Internet in order to pry into my mobile photos.

The app does not even ask for specific permission to access my photos; once I allow it to have full Internet access, my photos become public! Talk about maximum nakedness.

There goes my sensitivity for privacy concerns and underhanded methods of gathering data from users all in the name of improving service quality. And I thought I was already being cautious and on guard. What I didn't know was that Google would have the nerve to deceive me, taking the path of least resistance by deciding for users in omitting permissions entirely rather than giving them the choice.

Diana Lutgarda P. Bonilla, Entry #12

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