Are These App Permissions As Scary As They Seem?
We’ve all heard scary stories about app permissions and what blindly allowing them can do for your privacy and phone bills.
We’ve also heard talks about Google stepping up and doing something about it – more precisely – letting users to handpick which permissions they want to allow for a particular app, compared to the standard “yes” or “no” approach. However, until the rumours are confirmed, we are left with the same disturbing thought: is this app stealing my data or racking up my phone bills?
There’ve already been several posts where we talked in lengths about the importance of reading through permissions that the app is asking you for. Here, we would like to focus on some of the most typical ones that often become a cause for concern.
Calling Phone Numbers In Your Contact List
Apps that are in any way connected to the calling function will probably rightfully ask you for this permission. This includes dialer apps, Google Now, contact apps and so on. If you see this permission in the requirements list of an app – you have every right to be suspicious and start asking the hard questions.
Reading Your Contacts
Yes, whenever an app is asking for your private information, your “suspicious activity” radar may sound an alarm. However, you may also be well-aware that with certain apps there is no avoiding this. For instance, any messaging or social media app will not do without having access to your contact list – and it would be a natural request on their side. However, if the app in question is not socially-oriented this request may be unjustified.
Receiving And Sending Texts And Media Messages
Apps that send out texts and other messages can rack up quite a bill, without you knowing. Yes, there is no denying this permission to SMS applications or the ones that are meant to share various media (MMS permissions). It’s always up to you to make the final decision – but watch out for applications that have no business messing with your messaging. If the app does not come with a social component (and until Google has not made up its mind as the feature we mentioned earlier), it may be safer to uninstall it altogether.
Accessing Calendar Events
You may not be watching out for this one, as there is nothing that seems dangerous or suspicious about the permission. However, calendars do contain your personal information, and any app that does not deal with task management should not be asking to look into or adding things to your personal calendar.
Accessing Your Location Data
It would probably be quite hard to find an app that would not be interested in knowing where you are – since these days this factor decides a lot. Want to use an app to order a pizza? Find the nearest movie theatre? Look up hotel information? Then you should get used to the idea that your apps will know where you are. Even if you can’t see the direct connection between what the app does and mapping, it may be sponsored by location-based apps. If you don’t feel comfortable with applications tracking your whereabouts, the only choice you have is disabling GPS data and uninstalling the apps that demand access to your location information.
There are not too many apps that do not ask for this permission – some applications are directly connected to online communication, some need updates, some want to go online to get ads that pay for their existence. Look into the application you are about to download and think why it is asking you for network access. If the application is ad-free and you can’t see any clear reason for why it would like to go on the web – you can always ask the developer directly or look into the issue through online reviews.
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