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article imagePrivacy feature on Android phones removed by Google

By Andrew Ellis     Dec 16, 2013 in Technology
San Francisco - Android users had a feature that allowed them to choose what personal information third-party apps could collect from them. Now the feature is no more.
According to Reuters, Google said it accidentally included an "experimental feature" that allowed Android users to block apps from collecting personal information.
VentureBeat reported that the feature, called Ad Ops Launcher, allowed users to set very detailed privacy settings. Google said they took it out because not only was never supposed to be released, but it could also interfere with the functionality of apps.
Peter Eckersley, technical projects director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, originally wrote a blog post praising the app and praising Android's engineers for giving users more privacy control, according to InformationWeek. When it was removed he wrote another blog saying Google's explanation was "suspicious," and that they "do not think that it in any way justifies removing the feature rather than improving it."
According to VentrueBeat, the EFF also said:
"The disappearance of App Ops is alarming news for Android users. The fact that they cannot turn off app permissions is a Stygian hole in the Android security model, and a billion people’s data is being sucked through. Embarrassingly, it is also one that Apple managed to fix in iOS years ago."
Reuters said that the 3rd party apps included the music-recognition program Shazam and other well-known flashlight apps. It's apps like these that make it unclear as to how blocking an app from collecting personal information can hinder the app's functionality.
Google told the EFF that the feature was still in testing mode, according to VentureBeat.
More about android 43, Google, Internet privacy
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