Newb wants to know why apps invade privacy, even this forums?

Discussion in 'Android Applications' started by Coupe, Jan 2, 2012.

  1. Coupe
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    Coupe New Member

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    Seriously, even the app for this forum wants acces to my phone number and even the numbers of those that I call? Why is that? Why is it that app developers insist on being an invasion of my privacy? I cannot accept that it is "required" for the app to work in any app.
    I can understand why a voicemail app needs access, but most of the others???

    I seriously don't get why users are not up in arms about this, you can't download most of the apps in the market, from the 10+ silly sports horns or weather radar without giving away things that most of us worked at staying away from on our pc's during the last decade and I can only guess that people just don't bother to read the permissions during the installation ?

    I would not be as concerned if I could modify the permissions of an app after install or block certain information from being visable to ANYONE, but I cannot. I have a phone with very little apps on it because of this, and it really feels like a bait-n-switch by Verizon and to be honest most of the droid community, I did not find any obvious outrage on the forums about this, but I find that the "free app for this forum" OS just as guilty! Who wants my info from this forum and what do they want to do with it?


    I know that I will see posts claiming that's just how it is" or "what do you want for free"? I do not accept that, and you should not either. Complacency is no justification.

    Can someone with more experience tell me what I can do with my phone to prevent invasive spyware issues?

    What can I do to actually own my phone and take back my privacey?
  2. guidot
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    guidot Developer Relations Staff Member Premium Member

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    I'm sorry that you feel this way about apps. Most apps need to read phone state so they can connect to the 3G/4G network.

    I have located a very good guide on how to protect yourself at Androidforums.com: here

    Good luck!
  3. JuniorJays
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    JuniorJays New Member

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    Exactally its just the way it works. I'm sure most ios or Windows phone 7 apps would say the same thing. If your worried about viruses stay on the top apps of the market, or ones recommend here.
  4. Coupe
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    Coupe New Member

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    So blackberry is the only one that has this figured out? I don't think so.

    You cannot convince me that every app requires access to "phone calls" and "personal information" to function. That's just not true.

    So, have either of you created apps? Can you explain why some good apps "require no special permissions" and bad apps need access to everything to sound like a "sports horn?"
  5. gflam
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    gflam Developer Theme Developer Developer

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    A lot of them sounds worse then they are for instance my app boot managers permissions currently are

    Network communication-which is just needed so we can fetch the files boot manager needs to function like busybox

    Your personal information-this one is actually in the next update and currently needed but we are going to have the ability to sync your call logs and sms between your ROMs and you can choose which ROMs will sync

    Storage-so we can work on your sdcard

    Phone calls-this is the read phone state one need to know if your phone has data so we know if we can contact the server or not

    System tools-allows us to keep your phone awake during an install

    Network communication-there's a second one for google license verification library

    Hardware controls-vibrate notification when install is complete

    Your accounts-used in checking the license to see if your email has purchased a copy

    So basically what I'm getting at is a lot of the permissions in my opinion sound scarier then what they're actually used for but the thing is they can be scary as well but in most cases they're not. Basically just be smart check the apps rating and download count if it has a low download country be cautious and if the rating is bad look for something else or just read the reviews and see why the rating is bad.

    Things like this forum using tapatalk obviously should be trusted its well known and comes from a big developer the permissions it has are just scarier sounding then what they actually are for.

    Another thing you can try is email the dev if the app seems sketchy and ask about the permissions if you don't get a reply you might want to stay away

    Sent from my evo 3d at 1.8ghz
  6. gflam
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    gflam Developer Theme Developer Developer

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    Feel free to ask me anything else I have a lot of experience with writing apps now it's all I do ha

    Sent from my evo 3d at 1.8ghz
  7. JuniorJays
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    JuniorJays New Member

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    First off all phone OS need the same permissions every one. The reason an app would need permission to your phone is to pause any sound from playing while on the phone.
  8. JuniorJays
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    JuniorJays New Member

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    He beat me too it nice write up, I'm sure it will be very helpful to him
  9. metalspring
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    metalspring New Member

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    arent there actually apps in the market you can use to help restrict apps from having certain permissions (kind of like how superuser works on miui.us roms?)
  10. gflam
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    gflam Developer Theme Developer Developer

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    Yea things like privacy blocker by x can do that but i've heard some bad reviews on them since they like decompile the app and remove perms and what not. Not sure how it works completely but if it were just removing the perm from the manifest that would be really bad and would cause force closes.
  11. Coupe
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    Coupe New Member

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    Sorry, but I still fail to understand why the app for THIS FORUM needs to have access to my Rezounds "Phone calls"? I am not picking on this app, but since it is something that many of you use it is as good a example as any.

    What possible reason would a forum app need to see my number and who I have called? I have other apps that access the network that do not need to see "Phone calls", and they seem to allow calls through? This very forum loads the add for that app most times I go here on my phone, so I wanted to trust it, but now I am not so sure.

    Again, I just want to use this as an example and am not pointing fingers, but I REALLY want to know.


    Many apps often list "No special permissions are needed"


    Anyway...

    Lets take "Angry Birds" for en example, it's popular and generally considered harmless since the developer is now fairly large and legitimate.
    Here are the required permissions, I will list them in order and try to understand them.

    STORAGE (I get that one, its kind of obvious with high scores and all) (But wait, it also has a network connection?)

    PHONE CALLS : "Allows the application to access the phone features of the device. An Application with this permission can determine the PHONE NUMBER AND SERIAL NUMBER OF THIS PHONE,weather a call is active, the number that call is connected to and the like". (A big WTF on that one, its a free app and it should not be allowed that kind of access!)

    Network Communication: Full internet access. Allows an application to create network sockets.
    OK, fine, it needs to be able to connect to something on line to be able to do...wait, why in the heck does it even need to connect to any servers or open sockets? IT's THE FREE VERSION of a game on your phone? I guess if it has "In app purchases" or location based adds pushed out to you it could justify that, so we can let it slide, after all what bad can come from network access?*

    Your Location, Course (Network Based)
    Other apps often want GPS data, but even coarse data can be fairly close to GPS locations.
    I could type the entire paragraph here that is in the description, but COME ONE PEOPLE, this is pure identity theft!
    Why is it any programs right to know where I am? Especially on a device with a network connection.
    This is not a map specific tool or application, its a friggin game that now knows where you are, and possibly how fast you are going while you are playing this game? You are allowing yourselves to be tracked by a private game company that aggregates data to sell to the highest bidder for all you know!
    Now those network sockets are sounding a bit more diabolical?


    A serious question. would you allow your home PC to have tracking software installed to find out where you are and what sites you like...oh, and how fast you are going in a school zone? I know I know "Google already knows"...but not really, if I am not logged into google on a public machine they really dont know. I guess the answer from many of you will be "I don't care", and to be honest if you are logged in to FACEBOOK on your MAC/PC then you probably really don't care.

    I am not trying to present any type of paranoid attitude here, and I know I will get "That guy" that will just tell me to go back to a string and some cans, or go off topic and rant about unrelated technology that does the same thing and how it somehow justifies android doing the same thing...

    But I had gotten used to being able to alter the permissions on my old Blackberry to compensate for invasive apps, if the app would crash without that given permission then it was junk spyware anyway and it was deleted. After all, a "fart app" needs no special permissions right!
    I honestly feel like I my right to privacy has taken a step backwards with my move to Android, and I am here for at least two years and want to make the best of it.


    Sorry for the long rant. It's snowing outside and I have more time on my hands than I should today! Thank you to all who have stuck with me so far and thank you to those sharing info that have real app building experience, I may be sending some PM's at some point to pick your brains about where to find "Android development for dummies".
  12. chokoholic
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    chokoholic New Member

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    I agree. You are right, but what can we do?

    Sent from my DROID RAZR using DroidForums
  13. gflam
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    gflam Developer Theme Developer Developer

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    Too long for me to fully read now but read phone calls is really read phone state like to tell if you have a data connection or not if the app can't tell if you're connected to a data connection such as wifi or 3g and tries to do something using data it will force close. Like say I'm writing an app and I need to grab a file from the server if I can't write the app to tell if we have data and then grab a file from the server if there's no data the file doesn't get fetched but I don't have a way of really telling I try to do something with that file and bam force close.

    This app reading phone calls is really just reading your phone state to see if you have data since this app obviously uses data. You're just being a little paranoid I think it's most likely not actually reading your phone calls but just the state your phone is in

    Sent from my evo 3d at 1.8ghz
  14. guidot
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    guidot Developer Relations Staff Member Premium Member

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    If you read the link I posted it states this also prevents forms of piracy.

    Just a thought.

    Sent from my DROID3 using Tapatalk
  15. Coupe
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    Coupe New Member

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    So, I give up personal information to prevent a free application from being pirated? Sorry, but they will need to do better than that to justify what could be considered unwarranted/illegal wiretapping? The only reason it is not already in the courts is because people accept the conditions when they hit install. Maybe we need more Human Centipads scurrying about.

    humanCentiPad01_press.jpg

    I guess all we can do is vote with our wallets and not download any apps that steel data bandwidth or track locations for no reason.
    Hers one...RADAR NOW! aSpotcat shows that it has the ability to modify SD card contents? I find it odd that not a single free radar app can run without questionable permissions on android? I guess I will trash that one also.
    Can anyone justify why weather radar NEEDS to be able to do that?
  16. wicked
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    wicked DF Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

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    Simple solution. Don't install any apps with permissions that you don't agree with. :)

    btw, our Forum App was made for us by Tapatalk. The #1 forum app on the planet.
  17. jstafford1
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    jstafford1 DF Super Moderator Rescue Squad

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    Many apps need sdcard access to store settings and configurations. Some offer backup support, that data needs to go somewhere.

    "Stay classy Interwebz"
  18. jstafford1
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    jstafford1 DF Super Moderator Rescue Squad

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    Also if its app2sd capable...well that modifies the sdcard....most free apps need network access due to the banner ads in them. There's reasons for the permissions. And the reason is listed with the permission.

    "Stay classy Interwebz"
  19. Coupe
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    Coupe New Member

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    Using that logic one can not download many apps at all, and nobody else seems to care? Thats troublesome. From what I gather in this thread you cant make most apps without it needing access to my phone number, serial number and the number of who I am calling? :frown:

    Even the local TV station weather apps all want more info/access than they really need? Why is that ya think? Can it not be done without accessing phone calls or something? Cant it check data without suspicion?

    And just because Tap a talk made the forum app for you is no justification for what it looks like it's doing?

    It would be great if we could adjust permissions post installation that does not require root access/modifications to the phone (See voided warranty). This is what VZW and Google need to do. I wont hold my breath since VZW invented spying on customers, it seems we are all Nielson TV watchers these days.
  20. metalspring
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    metalspring New Member

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    if you're worried im pretty sure there are apps that can tell you everything you phone sends through internet connection (packet sniffers) i'd assume thats about the only real way the app could send info about your phone. then you can see for yourself :)
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