I want an app to scan the occasional QR code which usually should contain an URL.

The other day, I meant to download an app for that and searched the market for one that does not want access to all my contacts, my granny's underpants, and whatever else it could get its grubby hands on — to no avail.

How is it that they all want to dig into my pants contacts? Am I missing something or is that really just data mining on the app writers' part?

2 Answers 2


Here is QR Droid Private. It does not access your contact information.

Usually, the reason they want contact access is because you can store contact information in a QR code. So when scanned, it sees that it is a contact and adds it to your contacts. Without access to your contacts, it would not be able to do this. Another reason is that some of the apps allow you to create QR codes from your contacts. It would need read permission to do this.

Here is an example of a vCard stored in a QR code:

Here is the data that is stored in there:

N:John Q. Public
EMAIL:[email protected]
ADR:1234 any street suite 300 Someville\, ST 00000
  • 6
    I think this shows why the permissions are handled all wrong. Instead of having to accept an app that mysteriously requires some set of permissions, Android should've been set up to allow us to turn them on and off on a per-app basis, then let the app pop up a dialog "You scanned a contact, but I don't have permission", if and only if you try to use that feature. Mar 16, 2012 at 18:56
  • @LarryGritz: I wholeheartedly agree. Why do I have to either slavishly follow some app writer's whim on what they want to access, or abstain from installing the app altogether? As long as I'm content with a QR reader not being able to exchange contact infos, I could use any QR reader if I only could tell the system to deny it access to my contact list. As it is, I either have to find one whose writer voluntarily excluded that feature or I have to voluntarily surrender my private data.
    – sbi
    Mar 16, 2012 at 20:20
  • 2
    QR Droid Private is not as private as it seems. According to Clueful Privacy Advisor, this app (v5.7) communicates with both Appoxee and Flurry (analytics/adware services). These are not listed under the app's permissions. Other reviewers in Google Play have stated that they started getting popup adds after installing this app.
    – user96305
    Mar 1, 2015 at 4:54

Let me add: I am using Barcode Scanner by ZXing Team from F-Droid. The F-Droid folks build the apps themselves, from the sources, removing ad-libs if necessary. I generally trust them way more than what you find at the Play Store.

(That said, I seem to remember that this app is also available at the Play Store. There, however, it's uploaded by the creator, and you don't know if he did upload exactly the version that's open-sourced.)

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