When installing a new application on a cell phone I typically agree to whatever the stupid app wants. My approach is â€œjust do it and stop asking me questionsâ€. There have been numerous reports about how apps are stealing data. I had to rebuild my phone this week after getting a replacement from Google due to some rather nasty screen issues. I thought I would be a bit more circumspect in installing applications this time. Â I took a close look at the permissions applications were requesting as I installed them.
It is absolutely amazing the permissions applications are requesting. Of the 10 or 11 clock applications I looked at every last one of them wanted some permission which I deemed unnecessary. Reading caller ids, access to the network, access to contacts, ability to send e-mails without me knowing,â€¦ Outrageous! Iâ€™m sure an argument could be made for many of these but I cannot imagine how the argument for being able to read my text messagesÂ or read my contacts would go. If youâ€™re not paying for something then youâ€™re the product has never been more true.Whatâ€™s the solution?
I think it is actually a pretty easy solution: grant permissions in the same way as HTML5 or OpenID. HTML5 will request permission when a page performs some activity such as capturing images from your web camera. If the script isnâ€™t granted permission to access the camera then it should degrade or cancel based on this. Equally when youâ€™re logging into an OpenID site and it requests additional fields from the login provider then you can click cancel and the application should accept this and compensate.As it stands I either accept that my alarm clock needs to read my text messagesÂ or I donâ€™t install it. Usually I just donâ€™t install it. If I were able to pick and chose the permissions the application could have then it could degrade and still give me some functionality. Developers would have a much harder time sneaking malware onto phones if this could be done. As an added bonus I would like to see developers have to enter a reason why each permission was needed and have that show up during the install.Â
I canâ€™t believe that Google is just letting this stuff go. Say what you will for Apple but theyâ€™re pretty willing to crack down on stuff like this.