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Google removes privacy feature from Android, claiming addition was “accidental”

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Google’s recently added privacy feature allowing users to install apps while preventing the app from collecting sensitive data is now gone. According to the EFF which questioned Google, they were told the feature had been released by accident and was experimental.

The EFF being the EFF and advocating for the consumer is questioning Google’s explanation and believe that the explanation they were provided doesn’t justify the removal of the feature. Google’s concern for privacy or lack thereof has been well-documented and the removal of this app may or may not be cause for concern…yet.

The EFF recommends three ways Google should re-adopt this app and add more “fundamental pieces” in the future:

  • Android users should be able to disable all collection of trackable identifiers by an app with a single switch, including data like phone numbers, IMEIs, information about the user’s accounts.
  • There should be a way to disable an app’s network access entirely. It is clear that a large fraction of apps (including flashlights, wallpapers, UI skins, many games) simply don’t need network access and, as we saw last week, are prone to abuse it.
  • The App Ops interface needs to be smoothed out an properly integrated into the main OS user interface, including the Settings->Apps menus and the Play Store. There are numerous ways to make App Ops work for developers. Pick one, and deploy it.

Is this a feature you’d like to see enacted in Android moving forward?


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