Many smartphone users unaware of what Android apps are accessing

New York, Jan 18 (IANS) Many smartphone users are unaware of what their Android apps are accessing and that if they were, they’d like to stop it, according to a study.

Using a group of 36 participants, researchers at the University of British Columbia and the University of California-Berkeley, 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 percent 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, ctvnews.ca reported on Sunday.

The study showed 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’.

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.

The users of Google’s Android operating system, Marshmallow, 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, its adoption by majority of users will take a long time given that Lollipop, Marshmallow’s predecessor, is only running on one third of devices.

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