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Android Privacy Electronic Frontier Foundation Google

Google Cuts Android Privacy Feature, Says Release Was Unintentional 324

An anonymous reader writes "Peter Eckersley at the EFF reports that the 'App Ops' privacy feature added to Android in 4.3 has been removed as of 4.4.2. The feature allowed users to easily manage the permission settings for installed apps. Thus, users could enjoy the features of whatever app they liked, while preventing the app from, for example, reporting location data. Eckersley writes, 'When asked for comment, Google told us that the feature had only ever been released by accident — that it was experimental, and that it could break some of the apps policed by it. We are suspicious of this explanation, and do not think that it in any way justifies removing the feature rather than improving it.1 The disappearance of App Ops is alarming news for Android users. The fact that they cannot turn off app permissions is a Stygian hole in the Android security model, and a billion people's data is being sucked through. Embarrassingly, it is also one that Apple managed to fix in iOS years ago.'"
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Google Cuts Android Privacy Feature, Says Release Was Unintentional

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  • PDroid (Score:5, Informative)

    by JeffOwl ( 2858633 ) on Friday December 13, 2013 @10:03AM (#45679491)
    Gives granular control of app permissions. Requires Root, but it's worth it. I figured this change was never going to be permanent because it messes with Google's (and app developers') revenue stream.
  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday December 13, 2013 @10:26AM (#45679723) Homepage

    You can easily disable those apps.

    Not all of them.

    For some of the Google apps, I've had to uninstall updates to get them rolled back to an older version that I could disable. On many apps, there's simply no option to disable them.

    In many cases, the update marks the app as something you can't disable.

    I would dearly LOVE something which allows me to set more granular permissions on apps. I just tried "Permission Manager", and it essentially just crashes. In the mean time, I mostly run my Android devices with wifi off, and with no data plan so there's no way for them to reach the network.

  • Re:IOS? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Desler ( 1608317 ) on Friday December 13, 2013 @10:41AM (#45679837)

    Settings -> Cellular and then toggle off the apps you don't want using it. For apps you don't want using your location data, you simply deny them when the app runs the first time. If after the fact you want to deny them this permission you go to Settings -> Privacy -> Location Service and again toggle off the apps you don't want to have that permission. And guess what? None of the apps will crash due to these things being turned off.

    The saddest part of your post is you probably thought you were going to completely baffle people with the question when these toggles have been part of iOS for years now (if not since the beginning).

  • Re: Meh (Score:5, Informative)

    by Wookact ( 2804191 ) on Friday December 13, 2013 @10:51AM (#45679955)
    There are reasons not to update as well: additional ads, removal of liked features. When I find an app and version I like I make a copy of the apk. Then if there is an update that I don't like I can always go back to the old version. I've had to do this with the local newspapers application as it has become bloated with ads, and crazy permissions.
  • Re:Eagerly awaited (Score:4, Informative)

    by dido ( 9125 ) <[hp.muirepmi] [ta] [odid]> on Friday December 13, 2013 @10:52AM (#45679965)

    If you're rooted, you can install the XPosed Framework [] and the XPrivacy module for it [], which will allow you to lie to an app about the permissions it requests. CyanogenMod 10.1 also has such a feature, although the UI is rather clumsy if you ask me.

  • by Real1tyCzech ( 997498 ) on Friday December 13, 2013 @12:36PM (#45681069)

    It wasn't a feature. It wasn't "released". It didn't debut in 4.3.

    It was in the code for testing only, and never meant to be used outside of Google.

    There is almost nothing about this summary that is correct.

    But hey; good fodder for the haters to start crying "Foul!" about an OS they don't use....

"Yeah, but you're taking the universe out of context."