Many smartphone users unaware of what info apps access, study finds

A new study from researchers at the University of British Columbia and the University of California, Berkeley shows that too often consumers are unaware of what their Android apps are accessing and that if they were, they'd like to stop it.

See Full Article

When the latest version of Google's Android operating system, Marshmallow, finally starts appearing on existing handsets, their users will get new levels of control when it comes to permission -- i.e., being able to say ‘yes' or ‘no' to an app's need to share or access location or address book.

However, that day is a long way off. A year after rolling out, Lollipop, Marshmallow's predecessor, is only running on one third of devices.

That means the majority of smartphone owners are in the dark or are at least very confused about what they're sharing when they install an app. Permissions are given in list form during the installation process and the only way to refuse a condition is to not install an app.

For example, there was huge uproar when consumers found out a simple flashlight app ‘The Brightest Flashlight' -- downloaded 100 million times from Google Play -- was recording and sharing user location and device information as well as keeping a phone's camera flash on so it could be used as a torch.

But this uproar only came when the practice was exposed. And this was the starting point for the research team. Using a small group of 36 participants, they gave each person a handset with a tweaked form of Android that highlighted when information was being accessed or permission was needed.

After a week and 27 million data points, 80 per cent of participants said they would have liked to block one permission, and on the whole one third of all requests would have been stopped if it had been possible.

Only six people in the group were happy to share all data and information all of the time.

The study shows that there needs to be a clearer way of detailing how and why apps need permission and giving users the chance to opt out. But it also highlights a bigger point about the creep of technology into every part of modern life.

Consumers are feeling so overwhelmed by requests from their smartphones, PCs and the online services that they habitually use, that they're increasingly blindly clicking ‘accept' or ‘OK'.

A Pew Research Center study, also published this week, shows that in the US consumers often balance the erosion of privacy or online security against perceived benefits.

For example, 54 per cent of consumers would accept the introduction of surveillance equipment in their workplace if it were to catch thieves, but only 37 per cent would accept an insurance company installing a black box in their car in return for lower premiums.



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • New made-in-China navy destroyer launches in Shanghai

    Tech & Science CTV News
    BEIJING -- China's increasingly powerful navy launched its most advanced domestically produced destroyer on Wednesday, at a time of rising competition with other naval powers such as the United States, Japan and India. The first 10,000-ton Type 055 entered the water at Shanghai's Jiangnan Shipyard on Wednesday morning, the navy said in a statement. Source
  • Cambodian conservationists find rare cache of crocodile eggs

    Tech & Science CTV News
    PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - Wildlife researchers in Cambodia say they've found a clutch of eggs from one of the world's most endangered crocodiles, raising hopes of its continuing survival in the wild. The New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society said Wednesday that its researchers, along with Fisheries Administration employees and local residents, had found six eggs of the Siamese Crocodile in the southern province of Koh Kong as they were exploring for tracks, signs and dung of the…
  • Found in Cambodia: Clutch of eggs from one of the world's most endangered crocodiles

    Tech & Science CTV News
    PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- Wildlife researchers in Cambodia say they've found a clutch of eggs from one of the world's most endangered crocodiles, raising hopes of its continuing survival in the wild. The New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society said in a statement Wednesday that its researchers, along with Fisheries Administration employees and local residents, found six eggs of the Siamese Crocodile in Sre Ambel District in the southern province of Koh Kong as they were exploring for tracks,…
  • New, highly hostile strain of ransomware cripple networks worldwide

    Tech & Science CTV News
    PARIS -- A new, highly virulent strain of malicious software that is crippling computers globally appears to have been sown in Ukraine, where it badly hobbled much of the government and private sector on the eve of a holiday celebrating a post-Soviet constitution. Source
  • New, highly hostile strain of ransomware cripples networks worldwide

    Tech & Science CTV News
    PARIS -- A new, highly virulent strain of malicious software that is crippling computers globally appears to have been sown in Ukraine, where it badly hobbled much of the government and private sector on the eve of a holiday celebrating a post-Soviet constitution. Source
  • Facebook deleting thousands of posts a week in anti-hate campaign

    Tech & Science CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Facebook said Tuesday that it deleted about 66,000 posts a week in the last two months as the social media giant cracks down on what it deems to be hate speech. The company said in a blog post that deleting posts can "feel like censorship," but that it is working on explaining its process better and improving its enforcement of hate speech. Source
  • Finding friends: Lonely elephant arrives at Los Angeles Zoo

    Tech & Science CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Zoo has a new elephant -- a lonely pachyderm from Fresno. The zoo says a 46-year-old Asian female named Shaunzi arrived Tuesday after being trucked 215 miles from the Fresno Chaffee Zoo in a special crate. Source
  • Facebook surpasses 2 billion users

    Tech & Science Toronto Sun
    MENLO PARK, Calif. — Facebook is reaching another milestone, announcing that it now has more than 2 billion users. CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the new marker was reached early Tuesday and in a Facebook post said that he’s proud of the role his company is playing in connecting people around the world. Source
  • Number of people using Facebook reaches 2 billion

    Tech & Science CTV News
    MENLO PARK, Calif. -- Facebook is reaching another milestone, announcing that it now has more than 2 billion users. CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the new marker was reached early Tuesday and in a Facebook post said that he's proud of the role his company is playing in connecting people around the world. Source
  • 'It's like WannaCry all over again': new ransomware attack infects computers across Europe

    Tech & Science CBC News
    A major ransomware attack on Tuesday hit computers at Russia's biggest oil company, the country's banks, Ukraine's international airport as well as global shipping firm A.P. Moller-Maersk. Moscow-based cybersecurity firm Group IB said hackers had exploited code developed by the U.S. Source