Have you ever stopped and really looked at the privacy concerns regarding your smartphone?
What apps are asking permission to view in your phone?
Ever asked why some might want to view something that has nothing to do with the functions of using that app?
I was taking a look at some of these “required” permissions while going through my own phone yesterday. Viewing what permissions they’re asking for; some of them really made me question if I really want those kinds of things able to be aware of my personal and private information wherever I go. Please keep in mind this post is made based on reading the general privacy settings and I have not fully gone through the entire “privacy and usage” from such applications as of right now.
I thought I would share some of the things I noticed that kind of bothered me. Here are some of the most common apps that either come on your new smartphones or that I know people use. I’ll start with Facebook. Click on the image below to zoom in and read their “required permissions” based on Google Play’s website
Now, you might look at that and not think anything of most of it or not understand most of what it’s saying, I know I don’t fully understand some of the wording they use, so I’ll also type out what Google Play says on my personal phone when it’s asking for permission to update Facebook.
Device & app history –
Allows the app to view one or more of: information about activity on the device, which apps are running, browsing history and bookmarks.
Okay, why does Facebook need to see my browsing history, bookmarks, and which apps are currently running? I might understand it from the aspect of using other programs that are connected through Facebook (which by the way, did you know that if you were logged into Facebook on one application for convenience and that same application decided to sell out to someone else, then that third-party they sold to would then have all of the information you’ve put on both sites. For example: If you connect to Facebook from your Instagram account, and Instagram decided to sell out to the highest bidder, you would have no way of knowing who had your information and who could see the things you’ve posted), but other than that I would say they have no reason to know what apps I’m currently using.
You also have to keep in mind that Facebook will regularly keep track of posts or pages you have ‘Liked’ in order to set up ads based around your interests. In a nutshell, it’s a way to make their ads more personalized just for you.
Uses one or more of: accounts on the device, profile data
Use one of: calendar, contact information
I’m not sure why Facebook wants to see your calendar or contact information. I guess if you’re one to allow it to connect to your phone that way and have no regard to who (in their company) might see anything from your phone then I’d say go for. Me personally, I prefer to keep those things to myself, not letting those I don’t know have such information.
Uses the device’s location
One thing that bothers me about this is that what is listed in the image above states that they want your general location AND precise location. That means they know exactly where you are. Does that not bother anyone else? Does no one else seem to care just who knows how to find them whether they know them or not?
Uses on or more of: SMS, MMS.
Charges may apply.
I’d say that’s pretty standard for those who their Facebook app set up to send them text messages.
Uses one or more of: files on the device such as images, videos, or audio, the device’s external storage
I guess that one makes sense too since you can upload videos, photos, and audio files stored on your phone to your Facebook account. Though I’m not sure why it says they have permission to delete photos on your phone, as listed in the above image.
Uses one or more of: camera(s), microphone(s)
Again, makes sense with use of posting photos, videos, and audio.
Wi-Fi connection information –
Allows the app to view information about Wi-Fi networking, such as whether Wi-Fi is enabled and names of connected Wi-Fi devices.
Okay, I understand using the Wi-Fi and being able to recognize connectivity in order to connect to the internet, but to know the “names of connected Wi-Fi devices?” I’m pretty sure they already established that they need to know the name of your phone, so why list that unless they want to know what other devices are connected to that same Wi-Fi network? I’m sure this applies to such features of letting you know which of your friends is close by. Personally, there are some people I might be friends with on that site that I’d rather not know I’m close by.
Device ID & call information –
Allows the app to determine the phone number and device IDs, whether a call is active, and the remote number connected by a call
Alright, to the end. Now I understand the phone is able to use the call functions from the app and use numbers people have listed on their profiles, but something about that just seems a little off to me. First of all, why do they actually need my number? Secondly, I guess it could make sense if someone decides to call from a phone number listed on the app that the app would need to know if a call is already in place. Third, why do they need the remote number?
I recently found another site talking about Norton’s findings on Andriod apps giving Facebook phone numbers. You can read it here: Norton: Andriod app skips consent, gives Facebook servers user phone numbers.
If you don’t feel like reading that website you can read this which was written on it:
Yesterday Norton updated its post about its findings in Facebook’s official Android app, wherein Facebook confirmed that its app has sent millions of Android users’ phone numbers to be stored on Facebook’s servers when the app is launched.
The app’s action of launch/send does not require users to log in, so user consent is impossible, and the app’s phone number-to-Facebook-server mechanism occurs whether or not the person launching the app has a Facebook account.
Facebook told Norton that all phone numbers obtained in this manner through its app have been deleted from Facebook’s servers.
Symantec’s Norton published updated findings that show Facebook has been uploading phone numbers to its servers via its Android app in Norton Mobile Insight Discovers Facebook Privacy Leak.
Isn’t nice that all of the smartphones they sell come with Facebook already installed on them? And you cannot delete it.
You might think I sound paranoid about them having such information, but my questions would be: why do they want it? And can you honestly tell me everyone or thing mainstream, that almost everyone uses, is trustworthy?
The point of this is to point out how many of us don’t bother reading the permissions we give out to others we trust our personal information with.
We think we’re just sharing with friends and acquaintances bits and pieces of or daily lives, what we’re interested in, believe in, or do. The reality is that whatever information we post on the internet is never fully private.