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Why do so many popular apps access personal info?

Discussion in 'Android Apps & Games' started by boogbooga, May 22, 2011.

  1. boogbooga

    boogbooga Lurker
    Thread Starter

    Hi there, I'm new to the Android scene but I've noticed that alot of apps need access to your personal information. Even popular ones like launcherpro and lookout want access to all that. Is there a reason for this or am I being paranoid?

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  2. sdrawkcab25

    sdrawkcab25 Extreme Android User

    It's necessary for those types of apps to work, especially launchers like launcher pro.
    boogbooga likes this.
  3. boogbooga

    boogbooga Lurker
    Thread Starter

    So lookout needs to read/edit my SMS and all the calls I make? It just seems fishy to me thats all.
  4. euph_22

    euph_22 Android Expert

    boogbooga likes this.
  5. iowabowtech

    iowabowtech root@android:/ #

    Lookout is kind of an interesting one because of its very intent you are pretty much placing your faith in that app in order to protect your interests. You are wise to question permissions in general though. I think many people, myself sometimes included, don't pay enough attention to them.
  6. NightAngel79

    NightAngel79 Bounty Hunter

    moved to Android lounge
  7. mikedt

    mikedt 你好

    At least the Lookout people are up-front and explain why they need those permissions.

    I'm always extremely suspicious and would never install things like wallpaper apps or shoot 'em up games which require GPS position, phone calls, SMS, contacts, etc. I bet so many people don't even look at or question an app's permissions, and just install everything willy nilly.
  8. takeshi

    takeshi Android Expert

    There is a fine line between questioning permissions and going all tinfoil hat without actually understanding the permissions though. If you don't understand why an app is asking for a permission then ask for help in understanding why. Sometime's it's not so straightforward that you can rely just on the name of the permission. Be skeptical but don't swing too far in the opposite direction either.
  9. odhinn

    odhinn Member

    Most apps will ask for the moon, knowing the only choice you have is to install or not install. I switched from Pandora to Stitcher when Pandora started requiring access to my contact list and calendar - a music player doesn't need access to that information to play music. If you contact Pandora, they will tell you they need that access to create events (e.g. concerts) or share songs with your friends. Sure, fine, whatever.

    The problem is, even if you trust the application to not abuse your data, you have no recourse if you don't.

    This is why so many people have requested Google give users the ability to choose what permissions an app is given. So the app can still ask for the moon, but you as the user can decide if you want to give the application that level of permissions or not. e.g. install Pandora, but tell it no you can't access my contact database or calendar.

    Naturally, Google does not want to do this, because they are afraid of people blocking internet access for some apps, e.g. Angry Birds, and suddenly the ads are blocked - upsets the application developer, who then stops using Android. However, that's a specious argument since there is obviously a way to satisfy most users while still allowing ads to be displayed to satisfy most application developers and advertisers.

    If you, like me, feel Google should listen to its users and give the user the power to choose what sorts of access applications have to your data, spread the word about this issue. Note comment #44 where a Google employee specifically states this is the most requested feature, and that they are not going to fix it.

    Issue 3778 - android - Feature request: Application permissions should be individually grantable by the user - Android - An Open Handset Alliance Project - Google Project Hosting
    tempmail and AndroidSPCS like this.
  10. sonofaresiii

    sonofaresiii Android Enthusiast

    Christ, what's with all the paranoia? Do people really think there's a secret underground Evil, Inc. company somewhere whose master plan is to release an app to track your personal location so they can send their black ops agents out to kidnap you? I mean what's the fear? And where are you people finding these sketchy apps in the first place? I assure you, fancywidgets has no interest in hacking your phone, stealing your address and robbing your house. They just want to make your phone look nifty.
    KENNECTED likes this.
  11. AndroidSPCS

    AndroidSPCS Android Expert

    Your rant is quite over the top and pointless.

    Do you TRULY know that apps have no interest in hacking the phone and stealing info??? Do you personally vet every single app?
    tempmail and odhinn like this.
  12. mikedt

    mikedt 你好

    Erm... the Android Market... many apps there with highly questionable permissions. Wallpaper which wants GPS location info, flashlights(turns the screen white) which wants contacts and messaging information, space invaders games which requires full internet access and well as contact information .. When I see stuff like this, no wonder I'm careful about what I install.
  13. AndroidSPCS

    AndroidSPCS Android Expert

    I'm particularly concerned about contacts / calendar access. How do I know if an app doesn't change my contacts or change my calendar? :thinking:

    Not to mention the risk of sensitive data being leaked out. :mad:
  14. sonofaresiii

    sonofaresiii Android Enthusiast

    I think I brought up some legitimate points. I genuinely don't understand what people are afraid of. Someone can get your address by following you home, too, and far more easily than finding a security issue with android... but people don't get upset that there aren't government-issued body guards for everyone.

    I find it far more likely that someone's going to break into your car and steal your phone, than that an app will do.... *something* to you, though no one can really tell me what they're afraid of.

    So, again, what's with all the paranoia? It's a legitimate question. Why are people so worried?
  15. bluenova

    bluenova OK Computer

    Perhaps identity theft and credit card fraud is not as big in your neck of the woods as it is over here but it happens all the time over here and mostly by people being socially engineered or just plain careless with their security on internet enabled devices (mainly using the same password across sites). It's amazing what a criminal can then do with a little information.

    For a thief to target one person (old school thiefing) it is very inefficient and the chances of that target becoming fruitful is not very high. By using websites/apps or hacking say Sonys database a thief can obtain information on multiple targets making the chances of fruition much higher.
    tempmail, odhinn and AndroidSPCS like this.
  16. A lot of people are actually storing personal information on their phones. Information that they do not want to make available to random app developers.

    Maybe you do not mind that unknown people can read all your SMS and email and log all your surfing, but many people do.

    Heck, a lot of people would not even let their coworkers access all their personal data, even though they know them personally. E.g. you might let your coworkers read your work related emails but you do not want them to read your personal emails to your children.

    I find it annoying that certain people mindlessly pull out the "Paranoid!" card when important security aspects are being discussed.

  17. ElasticNinja

    ElasticNinja Android Expert

    If you are running Nightly 83+ of CM7 you can restrict permissions :)
  18. Lennatron

    Lennatron Android Enthusiast

    Does anyone know why all games need internet access? I know some games need it so you can play people online or submit high scores, but most games need internet access but they don't do any of these things.
  19. sdrawkcab25

    sdrawkcab25 Extreme Android User

    Usually for ads to work.
  20. NightAngel79

    NightAngel79 Bounty Hunter

    I also would have guessed so they can check market for updates
  21. ElasticNinja

    ElasticNinja Android Expert

    uh why would they need that NA?
  22. NightAngel79

    NightAngel79 Bounty Hunter

    How else would an app/market know if you have an update available??
  23. ElasticNinja

    ElasticNinja Android Expert

    The Market checks itself for updates
  24. NightAngel79

    NightAngel79 Bounty Hunter

    Link? Not that i doubt you because that does make sense, but my explanation also made sense (to me at least:p)

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