General Tech

Android App Permissions

When installing Android apps, look closely at the permissions they are asking for. For example, OpenSignal wants to read my text/MMS messages, my call log, and my contacts. Why do they need that information? I’ve asked them; I don’t expect to get a reply, or at least a reasonable one. Probably something about “to improve service and the customer experience” or some similar line. No thanks.

Edit: here is their answer.

Well written, and makes sense, but I still fundamentally disagree with an app billed to “find the best signal in your area” being morphed into something that tracks data usage. In the context in which OpenSignal is marketed by its own tag line – as a signal tracking tool – it has no business doing anything with SMS/MMS and contact information. The app should be repackaged as a signal and data tracking tool to better manage user expectations, or the new app should be split out so the user can reasonably expect to grant those permissions based on what the software is expected to do. Now it is all-or-nothing, and should the app developer change their mind about what they will do with the information they can collect, there is nothing users can do. They can uninstall the app, but once the data is collected and sent back to the developer, it is no longer in the user’s control.

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