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

  • Apple poised to expand into speaker market with HomePod

    Tech & Science CTV News
    SAN FRANCISCO -- Apple is finally ready to launch its attempt to compete with the internet-connected speakers made by Amazon and Google with the release of its long-awaited HomePod. Pre-orders for the HomePod will begin Friday in the U.S, U.K. Source
  • Why B.C. and Alaska avoided a massive tsunami

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Coastal communities in British Columbia and Alaska were evacuated to higher ground early this morning after tsunami warning sirens blared following a large earthquake off the coast of Alaska. But the warning was later cancelled without any reported tsunami damage. Source
  • Tsunami warning: How to respond when the alert is raised

    Tech & Science CTV News
    VANCOUVER -- Some facts on tsunamis after a warning on Tuesday caused people in communities along the coast of British Columbia to head to higher ground: What is a tsunami? Japanese for "harbour wave," a tsunami is a series of huge ocean waves caused by a rapid and large-scale disturbance of sea water. Source
  • AI can read! Tech firms race to smarten up thinking machines

    Tech & Science CTV News
    PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Seven years ago, a computer beat two human quizmasters on a "Jeopardy" challenge. Ever since, the tech industry has been training its machines even harder to make them better at amassing knowledge and answering questions. Source
  • Fisheries minister to outline measures aimed at protecting endangered whales

    Tech & Science CTV News
    MONCTON, N.B. -- The federal fisheries minister is expected to announce new measures today aimed at protecting North Atlantic right whales. Dominic LeBlanc is planning to outline the initiatives this morning in Moncton, N.B. Source
  • Ottawa announces four new measures in effort to protect right whales

    Tech & Science CTV News
    MONCTON, N.B. -- The federal fisheries minister has announced four immediate measures for the crab fishery in an effort to protect North Atlantic right whales from entanglement with fishing gear. Dominic LeBlanc says new rules will greatly reduce the amount of rope that can be left floating on the surface when crab pots are set to just 3.7 metres. Source
  • Astronauts go spacewalking to give new hand to Canadarm2

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Spacewalking astronauts are giving a hand to the International Space Station's big robot arm. NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Scott Tingle floated outdoors Tuesday to install the new mechanical gripper. Because of the lingering effects of the government shutdown, the beginning of the spacewalk was not broadcast live on NASA TV. Source
  • Astronauts go spacewalking to give new hand to robot arm

    Tech & Science CTV News
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Spacewalking astronauts gave a hand to the International Space Station's big robot arm Tuesday. As the federal government geared back up 250 miles below, NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Scott Tingle floated outdoors to install the new mechanical gripper. Source
  • Spacewalking astronauts give new hand to robot arm

    Tech & Science CTV News
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Spacewalking astronauts gave a hand to the International Space Station's big robot arm Tuesday. As the federal government geared back up 250 miles below, NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Scott Tingle successfully installed the new mechanical gripper. Source
  • Flood of garbage stirs uproar in Lebanon

    Tech & Science CTV News
    ZOUQ MOSBEH, Lebanon -- Environmentalists say a winter storm has pushed a wave of trash onto a Lebanese shore just outside Beirut, stirring outrage over a waste management crisis that has choked the country since 2015. Source